Over the last five years, I’ve noticed the growing popularity of vaping has grown significantly - noticeably among some of my teen and young adult patients.
Some of vaping’s popularity can be attributed to how it’s been perceived as a safer substitute for smoking, a possible tool to quit smoking traditional tobacco products, popular flavouring, and fewer regulations.
Over the last five years, statistics from the CDC’s survey of approximately 20,000 students in grades 6-12 found that after years of exponential increases in vaping among teens, use has begun to decrease. Their annual questionnaire gathers information from teens who said that they had used a tobacco product within 30 days before they had answered the survey.
The survey inquired about the use of vaping devices, traditional cigarettes, and tobacco products; this year’s data reflected a continued decline in cigarette smoking but, more remarkably, a significant new drop in e-cigarette and hookah use. While previous years had found a sharp increase in students self-reporting that they were using vaping devices, the CDC estimates that the number of middle and high school students using tobacco products fell to 3.9 million this year from 4.7 million the year before.
Between 2011 and 2015, the number of high school students who said that they’d recently vaped increased 14.5%. However, the CDC reported that it dropped to about 11% last year.
Despite being perceived as a safer substitute for tobacco, research shows conflicting results. E-cigarettes and vapours contain unpredictable levels of nicotine which are equally toxic and addictive in vaping products as there are in traditional tobacco products. One UK study found 39.5% of smokers had used vaping to quit tobacco smoking, a better result than more conventional anti-smoking strategies can claim. However, conflicting studies found that vaping was associated either with no change at all in smoking habits or that it could actually be a gateway to nicotine addiction for people who had never smoked.
The biggest risks of vaping that I discuss with my patients include these four key points:
- The inhaled vapour can cause inflammations in the mouth and eventually lead to gum disease.
- Vaping has been shown to interfere with the body’s healing process by destroying the mitochondria that provide energy to cells as they close up injuries.
- The residue can cause persistent coughing.
- The metal coils which heat up the fluid inside e-cigarettes can cause trace chemicals in the liquid to become toxic, even carcinogenic.
If you enjoy vaping, using a therapeutic mouthrinse like Nicorinse and emphasizing a consistent oral hygiene routine will help counteract these dangers of vaping. Nicorinse’s foaming formula washes away residues and nicotine, reducing the impact of these chemicals on your body and cutting down on cravings.
Take time to talk to your teenage family members about the risks that come with using tobacco products and vaping; encourage them to hold off on taking up the habit until they’re adults and emphasize the importance of maintaining regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing habits.