The Health Scare Within Our Lungs

As the number of lung-related illnesses and deaths rise, electronic cigarettes and vaping devices are under investigation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

October 20, 2019


Ivanna Tjitra

Statistics surrounding the tobacco product use among high school students.

An epidemic has spread, affecting the lives of those young and old. Although not contagious, it is addictive and contains the ingredient for lung-related illnesses.


A sudden wave of worry and concern surrounds the topic of vaping as the number of lung-related illnesses and deaths increases at an alarming rate. At least 18 deaths have been linked to lung-related illnesses and at least 1,000 people have been diagnosed with a lung-related illness, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 


So far, in California, it has been reported that “102 Californians with a history of vaping have been hospitalized for severe breathing problems and lung damage, according to the state health department. Two of those people have died, including one in Los Angeles County,” according to the article “L.A. County Supervisors Vote to Ban Flavored Tobacco and Call for Statewide Vaping Ban” published by The Los Angeles Times.


However, these lung-related illnesses have not yet been completely confirmed to be the effects of vaping. Although most of the cases with lung-related illnesses have a background with electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and vaping devices, there has been no confirmation by any tests or diagnoses. Yet, the CDC is still suspecting vaping to be the main cause of the symptoms, thus giving this outbreak the name E-cigarette, or Vaping, product use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI).


Nevertheless, United States (US) health officials are still advising people to be cautious and to stop vaping in order to prevent further damage. Despite this uncertainty, actions are still being made toward the ban of e-cigarettes and vaping devices. 


There are numbers of “politicians across the country [who] have been pushing restrictions on e-cigarettes, which have soared in popularity among young people in recent years. San Francisco became the first city in the nation to ban e-cigarettes earlier this year. Massachusetts also recently instated a four-month ban on e-cigarettes, while Michigan and New York have outlawed flavored e-cigarette products,” states the article “Los Angeles Could Ban All E-Cigarettes and Vaping Devices” published by The Los Angeles Times.


The pros and cons of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and vaping devices. (Created by Ivanna Tjitra)

A controversy has spiked from this new attention surrounding vaping. Although vaping with e-cigarettes is a high risk for teens with its addicting flavors, it is relatively a safer method for adults trying to quit smoking. Imposing a ban on e-cigarettes has caused a concern for adult smokers who would have to resort back to harmful cigarettes with tobacco. On the other hand, imposing a ban on e-cigarettes would prevent future generations from becoming addicted to vaping.


In fact, studies state that “in 2014, over 2 million high school students and 450,000 middle school students reported current use of e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Just four years later, those numbers increased to over 3 million high school students and 570,000 middle school students, no doubt fueled in part by the manufacturers’ claims that their products are less harmful than cigarettes,” according to the article “Vaping Crisis Didn’t Have to Happen” published by CNN.


Both sides of the e-cigarette ban are arguably defensive. While e-cigarettes are supposedly a safer alternative for long-term smokers and do not contain harmful tobacco or other toxins, they do not reliably reduce smoking for those trying to quit smoking and they are usually used alongside tobacco cigarettes anyways. 


As more teenagers are getting addicted to e-cigarettes and vaping devices, a sense of urgency is pressured onto this controversy surrounding the ban of e-cigarettes and vaping devices. Should the ban be heavily enforced to protect the lives of future generations, but ultimately harm current adult smokers? Or should the ban be investigated further to aid current adult smokers while risking future generations becoming addicted to vaping devices?


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