Published on December 10, 2019

The Dark Side of Vaping

When electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, first hit the market, they were touted as a tool to help people stop smoking and a healthier alternative to cigarettes.

Fast forward about 10 years. As the number of vaping-related respiratory illnesses and deaths continues climbing, doctors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the FDA are raising warning flags. Their message is simple: Stop vaping now.

profile of person blowing vapors out of mouth and noseSecret Ingredients

The main concern is over the ingredients of vaping liquids. “Studies show that vape liquids contain cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals and nicotine levels that are higher and more potent than what’s found in cigarettes,” said Pulmonologist Andrea K. Anthony, MD, who has treated several people with vaping-associated lung injury, or VAPI, at NKCH.

As of right now, e-cigarettes aren’t regulated, meaning manufacturers aren’t required to tell you what’s in them. Of bigger concern are street vapes, which sellers modify to include THC, the high-inducing chemical in marijuana; cannabidiol, or CBD oil, also a chemical in marijuana; and other toxic chemicals.

“People are ingesting ingredients that were never meant to be ingested,” Dr. Anthony emphasized. “They don’t know what they’re getting. No oil in any way, shape or form should ever enter your airways.”

VAPI Symptoms

Symptoms of vaping-associated lung injury include:

  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unexpected weight loss

“If you or a loved one has used an e-cigarette or vaping device lately and have any of these symptoms, see your doctor,” Dr. Anthony warned. “People with VAPI are often misdiagnosed with bronchitis or another respiratory illness.”

How to Stop

Traditional FDA-approved tobacco cessation methods such as going cold turkey and using nicotine gum and patches can help you stop using e-cigarettes. Talk with your doctor about which options may benefit you.


Vaping Vocab

E-cigarette — A type of vape that uses a nicotine-based liquid
Juul — An e-cigarette brand name
Solutions or juices — The liquids ingested with a vape
Vape/Vaporizer — A device that heats a liquid

Vaping | Not Regulated

Stop vaping with Dr. Anthony

Dr. Anthony, pulmonologist and Shannon, respiratory therapist talk about e-cigarettes. Initially thought to be a smoking cessation tool, vaping is just as addicting and dangerous to your health. Watch to learn more.