My thoughts on nicotine product use, and how we can help those hooked on dangerous ones

I've recently taken a deep dive into researching various nicotine products, primarily vaping, since it seems to be quite popular in today's world, and look at how it stacks up to something like regular cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other nicotine products.

Regulatory bodies around the world seem to be pretty stuck when it comes to figuring out how to move forward in regulating vape products, such as the FDA and it's slowness to act in creating meaningful regulations surrounding this ever growing industry.

Many people have different ideas for what meaningful regulations would look like for the vaping industry. Some would like to see these products outright banned completely, whilst still leaving tobacco nicotine products on the market, which makes no sense as these tend to be more harmful and carcinogenic. And some people would like to leave the industry as it is, with little to no regulation.

My stance on vaping is that, if you are not currently addicted to smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or any other harmful form of nicotine intake, that you should not even think about touching vaping. Nicotine addiction is NOT fun, and is known to be one of the most addictive substances known to humankind due to the amount of dopamine that it can trigger to be released in your brain.

It also narrows your veins, forcing your heart to pump faster and harder to compensate for the smaller space in which blood can travel through, irritates your lungs, and puts you at an increased risk of cardiovascular issues, just to name a few. So, for these reasons, the best thing anyone that isn't already addicted to nicotine can do is to avoid these products at all costs, completely.

So called "nicotine-free" vape liquids are not safe either, as those have also been found to sometimes be outright lies, containing nicotine anyways despite the claims, and have been found to contain carcinogens and heavy metals, such as nickel and iron (sometimes due to it leaking in from the atomizers inside the vape devices, or it is already present in the liquid prior to heating).

So, with all of that in mind, what do we do about the current state of nicotine product consumption, and the ever growing teen vaping epidemic? For those teens already hooked on products like this, I think it's game over because of how impulsive teens are, and how easy it is to hijack young minds with substances such as these.

We can however, learn from these teens mistakes, and learn how they were influenced to start vaping in the first place. Here in the United States, there are no regulations on advertising vaping products, so companies are free to advertise through channels like TV adverts, social media ads, billboards, etc. This alone is a huge factor in influencing the youth to start vaping, and if we can get some solid regulations restricting vaping product advertisements, in the same way that we do traditional tobacco cigarettes, I think that would be a huge win.

In addition to advertising regulations, we need to regulate what can be used as ingredients to create these vaping liquids, as many popular ones on the market have been found to contain various carcinogens, vitamins such as vitamin E acetate, which is known to cause pneumonia like symptoms, and create microscopic cuts in your lungs when inhaled, and diacetyl, which causes a condition known as popcorn lung when inhaled, and causes COPD-like symptoms. If we can make it mandatory for vaping products to be FDA approved to be legally sold on the market, and can get vaping manufacturers involved in a screening pipeline, we can work towards creating safer, less harmful vaping products for people to use. This is the most important lacking part of regulation that we desperately need in my opinion.

We also need to stop glamorizing vaping/smoking in popular movies and shows, because statistics show that in the most popular entertainment watched by teens, smoking/vaping is often times normalized, or made to look like a cool thing, and if we want to stop another generation from getting addicted to nicotine, we need to stop with that as well.

Now with my youth ramble out of the way, what is my stance on using vaping to get off cigarettes? If you are addicted to cigarettes, in an ideal world, you would just drop it and never touch another nicotine product again. But, this isn't an ideal world, is it? So in this not-so-ideal world, I think vaping is the next best thing you can do. It isn't safe, but it is miles safer than cigarettes, and by using vapes as opposed to cigarettes, while they do carry some risks, the amount of garbage you are breathing in is significantly less than traditional combusted cigarette smoke.

I see vapes as a great harm reduction tool for people who already smoke, and I think it has the potential to save countless lives, despite it's issues in it's current state. I don't think we should be demonizing a tool such as vaping for existing smokers, when it has this potential, and we should instead work towards creating regulations that foster a safer, healthier vaping industry, whilst also reducing it's appeal to minors who are not addicted to nicotine, and should never be.