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Published on November 15, 2022

hand holding vape smoke in background

What Is Vaping and Why Is It Risky?

Vape devices, known as e-cigs, e-hookahs, mods, vape pens, vapes, tank systems and Juuls (pronounced jewel), contain four basic components:

  • A cartridge or a tank to hold e-liquid (or e-juice/vape sauce)
  • A heating element known as an atomizer
  • AA battery
  • A mouthpiece to inhale

“We understand the dangers that go along with vaping and we want to do everything we can to help better inform both our patients and providers about the risks that are associated with e-cigarettes,” said family medicine physician Becky VandeKop, MD, Access Health & Avera Medical Group in Brookings.

Is Vaping Safe?

No. First, vaping is unsafe for everyone, but it’s especially dangerous for teens and young adults as their brains are still developing. Vaping can lead to long-term neurologic and psychiatric problems, especially since vaping is a relatively new phenomenon, and long-term studies that examine its impact on teen and young adult health and behavior are continuing.

Thousands of cases related to e-cigarettes and vaping have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States with dozens of deaths confirmed as well.

Secondly, early evidence also has found that vaping can cause acute lung problems that may contribute to hospitalization with conditions that include severe acute lung disease and vaping associated lung injury (VALI). The exact cause may not actually be clear now, but some research shows it could connect to vitamin E acetate.

“Although vaping is relatively new, more and more studies are linking vaping to serious conditions like chronic lung disease and asthma,” said Anthony Hericks, DO, Avera Medical Group pulmonologist. “When you vape you are exposing yourself to dangerous chemicals that can have long-term effects on your body.” Hericks said people who vape also inhale metal particles.

What is Being Vaped?

Although many substances can be vaped, three are most common: flavored e-liquids, flavored e-liquids with nicotine and THC and/or CBD oil, distillates related to marijuana. The e-liquids come in small bottles or in pre-filled pods or cartridges. Pods are the component that contain the e-liquid.

Flavored e-liquids come in thousands of flavors, including bubble gum, cotton candy and grape, but also hot dog, banana bread and king crab legs.

Flavored e-liquids may also contain different levels of nicotine, ranging from 2 milligrams per milliliter (mg/ml) to 59 milligrams per milliliter. One of the more popular vape devices, Juul pods, are among the strongest vape products. Each pod contains 59 mg/ml of nicotine, which is the same amount of nicotine as full pack of 20 cigarettes.

If you'd like help to quit vaping and other aspects of preventive health call or find a provider.

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