Ever Juuled? That means smoking with the leading brand of e-cigarette, known as Juul. More generically, it’s called “vaping,” which you can do with any number of e-cigarette brands.
It’s often advertised as safer than smoking cigarettes. But is it?
Cigarettes, as you may know, are filled with tobacco leaves and stems. They also often contain additives like sugar, menthol, ammonia, and other ingredients known to cause cancer. Because smoking cigarettes involves combustion, you often inhale dangerous toxins—even with a filter.
E-cigarettes come in sleek, plastic containers that sometimes look like flash drives, can be charged in a USB port, and contain replaceable cartridge or “pods” of e-liquid. This liquid is a solution of benzoic acid, glycerol, propylene glycol, and food-grade flavoring. So there’s no tobacco plant in there. When an e-cigarette heats up, you inhale an aerosol solution, the “vape.” Because there’s no combustion, you likely inhale fewer toxins.
But you’re still inhaling nicotine, which enters your bloodstream through your lungs and ends up in your brain, where it binds to neurons in the reward pathway. The process releases neurotransmitters called dopamine, which you feel good.
Until you inhale some more. Like smoking, Juuling and vaping are addictive.
And even though Juuls and vapes skip the tobacco, nicotine is no saint. It’s known to increase the risk of cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal disorders. It can adversely affect reproductive health and may lead to cancer.
E-cigs are increasingly popular among young people, especially teens. A 2017 study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in 2015 over 58 million e-cigarettes and refills were sold in the US, at grocery stores and convenience shops alone—not counting vape shops or online.
So yeah, they’re sleek and trendy. But since they’re so new, no long-term studies exist yet on their health impacts.
Better to get your dopamine from good foods and exercise and skip the nic altogether.