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Teens are vaping. Is it safe?

Maya Griffiths

Maya Griffiths

Teens have always found ways to flex their independence and rebel- it was normal, years ago, for youths to share cigarettes behind the bike sheds. These days, however, many teenagers have taken to vaping. It may seem like a harmless vice, with the variety of fruity flavours available, but recent shocking news about the dangers of vaping and children developing lung issues show otherwise.

The facts about vapes

Vaping doesn’t expose you to tobacco- the most harmful ingredient of cigarettes. However, it is still considered addictive as it contains nicotine, and vaping is illegal for under 18s.

Vape products are often sold in colourful packaging with flavours that appeal to younger people, such as strawberry, apple or ice cream flavours. Selling vapes to anyone under the age of 18 is illegal in the UK, however.

A recent NHS research study asked 9,000 UK pupils about their vaping, smoking and drug use habits. 9% of those aged 11-15 reported using e-cigarettes, and 21% of 15 year old girls said they vape.

57% of the teenagers asked said they bought their vapes in a shop- so many are being sold to illegally.

Every vaping product sold in the UK should be be registered by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), but trading standards have found that thousands of vape products are flooding the market that contain unknown, unregulated ingredients.

Vaping is designed to be used as a way to quit smoking rather than as a regular lifestyle habit.

The risks related to vaping

The World Health Organisation says that ‘e-cigarettes are undoubtedly harmful and should therefore be subject to regulation.’ Many health professionals are also voicing their concerns over vaping, particularly in those underage. Fears have grown since cases of EVALI (E-cigarette use or vaping- associated lung injury) have been found. Most cases involve chest pain, cough and shortness of breath.

A recent BBC investigation found that young vapers were suffering from bleeding gums, sore throats and mouth sores. Dentists have also reported bad breath, soreness and ulcers as identified side effects.

The University of Birmingham found that vaping damages immune system cells in the lungs. The damage caused resembles what is seen in sufferers of lung disease.

The case of Ewan Fisher is perhaps the most alarming warning of what can occur in habitual vapers. Ewan suffered a serious respiratory failure caused by e-cigarettes, and was so seriously ill that he was placed on an artificial lung machine by doctors. Ewan’s illness was due to hypersensitivity pneumonitis- caused by an ingredient he was inhaling in his vape.

Thankfully, cases as severe as Ewan’s are rare. However, as use of vapes increases, severe lung issues are being found in more and more young people. Hopefully, with more awareness of the potential damage caused, the number of children vaping will decrease.

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