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For those of us relatively new to the concept, “vaping” is when someone uses a device, like an e-cigarette, that heats up liquid which turns into water vapor that is then inhaled just as you would with a cigarette.

Vape Craze or Counter-Culture?

The term "vaping" takes on new meaning
The term “vaping” takes on new meaning

Most of us know how detrimental smoking is to our health, causing heart disease and lung cancer, but many of us are still in the dark on the effects of the popular“vaping” craze.

For those of us relatively new to the concept, “vaping” is when someone uses a device, like an e-cigarette, that heats up liquid which turns into water vapor that is then inhaled just as you would with a cigarette. It is called “vaping” because, although it looks like smoke, the device emits only water vapor. And unlike cigarette or marijuana smoke, it is typically odorless and evaporates within about 3 seconds. Consider this visual flow chart that explains how burning material to inhale produces harmful toxins while heating does not. Basically, the process of combustion is what releases the toxins because, according to this flow chart, “the process of ‘burning’ breaks the chemical bond between carbon atoms in the organic molecules that are present.” This process then creates free radicals in the body that are known to cause cancer and other ill effects on our cells.

Vaping has gained popularity as people use these e-cigarettes in a number of ways. One direct result of increased in vaping is the increase in the the legalization of marijuana, which is on the rise with 23 states and Washington DC, allowing for medicinal marijuana and two states allowing for recreational use of marijuana. A recent article in USA Today took a look at how particular industries and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of what they call the “green river.” While vaping is not advertised for use with marijuana, it is of course a natural assumption that these vaporizers would be a great companion to the legalization of marijuana and vaporizer manufacturers are taking advantage of that pairing. Other reasons vaping is on the rise is because of the increase in smoking bans across the nation. From public parks to restaurants, it’s becoming almost impossible for smokers to find legal areas to light up, and since vaping is not technically “smoking,” it makes sense to make the transition, especially for regular smokers.

Beyond the marijuana boom and stiffer regulations on public smoking, vaporizers are also gaining popularity among the former-smokers community. While many people worry that non-smokers will pick up smoking using a vaporizers, most see vaping as a way to get people to quit smoking cigarettes. But it goes even beyond that for many people who have been advocating for vaping since the beginning. An article published in The Atlantic entitled “The Right to Vape,” said it best when the author explained that vaping is more than an alternative to smoking; “smoking e-cigarettes has evolved into a sport, a subculture, and a political movement.”

There is even a popular YouTube channel completely devoted to vaping called the Plumes of Hazard. As a movement, former- smokers have in a way banded together to fight what the call “Big Tobacco,” which is essentially the major producers and manufacturers of cigarettes. However, while e-cigarettes have earned about $2.5 billion in total sales since their introduction six years ago, the tobacco industry has still made $80 billion in that same amount time. The vape craze is incredibly fast-moving though so it will be interesting to see the effects on what they call “Big Tobacco” turn out to be.

With 15,000 vaporizer shop owners across the county, 466 brands of vaporizers, and 7,764 flavors of “e-liquid” on the market, vaping is growing faster than the FDA can regulate, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your views on it all. With nicotine, it can be an addictive substance, similar to caffeine, but when vaped it does not have the negative health effects on the lungs (or so we know we so far). The problem with lack of regulation for some rests in the danger with teens and young people who may pick up vaping without realizing the addictive or even possibly harmful nature of it. And while vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes, increased regulation wouldn’t be a bad thing to protect anyone under the age of 18. So while the future of vaping is up in the air, it’s popularity has made it into somewhat of a counter-culture that could turn out to be more than a fad, putting pressure on the tobacco companies to make changes of their own.

 

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About Alyssa Sellors

Alyssa Sellors was an English and Journalism educator for eight years and now works as a freelance writer and journalist. She is a regular contributor to a number of publications. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her husband, baby boy, and two chihuahuas.

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