Vape shops and websites offer a variety of colorful cartridges, pods, and bottles filled with vape juice. In e-cigarettes or vape rigs, the vape juice is heated, creating an aerosol that users inhale.
Vape juice is available in many flavors, including bubblegum, candy, and cereals for children. Michael Blaha, M.D. M.P.H., a Johns Hopkins cardiologist, discusses the effects of vape flavors and ingredients in e-liquids on health, especially for teens and children.
What’s in vape juice?
E-liquid is made up of many ingredients, including flavor. Blaha says that vape juices often contain nicotine and many additives and chemicals. Even the heating coil that turns the liquid into an aerosol can release trace metals and new chemicals.
Blaha notes that “there are many ingredients in liquids, and no one has taken responsibility for them to date.” He says that while commercial e-cigarette manufacturers may have production standards, vape shops, online sellers, or “homemade” vape juice blends are not held to the same standards.
Blaha says that vape juices can contain many things which could be toxic. Flavors, dyes, and nicotine can all be added to vape juice, as well as THC (the component in marijuana which causes the “high”). He says that there are many different concoctions. “For instance, people have reported putting essential oils, multivitamins, or traces from medicines into eliquids.”
Is vape juice safe?
Some of the additives in e-liquid can be deadly. Vitamin E acetate, for example, has been found in EVALI (e-cigarettes or vaping products use associated lung injury). It is a potentially fatal syndrome that has been linked to vaping. In 2019, it was on an upward trend. Vitamin E acetate can be consumed but is dangerous when inhaled.
Blaha states, “There is no doubt.” Some chest X-rays from patients with EVALI showed signs of oily, chemical irritation of the lungs.
Inhaling vape liquid may have a negative effect. You can eat it safely, but inhaling it may not be safe.
Blaha claims that there is limited evidence to suggest that vape juice flavors are harmful to individual users. Research indicates vape juice flavors can be dangerous when heated and combined with other ingredients.
Inhaling harmful chemicals can have an impact on more than the lungs. Vaping enthusiasts have described a phenomenon known as vaper’s mouth, which can cause a sudden loss of taste.
What are the effects of vape flavors on teens?
Blaha, a specialist on heart disease, treats patients with urgent reasons for quitting smoking. Blaha says these patients, usually older adults with heart disease and smoking, are motivated to stop. Vaping and e-cigarettes can help adults who have tried and failed to quit smoking using all the strategies approved by FDA. Some people use flavored vapes to quit smoking. The ultimate goal is to stop using all tobacco products.
Blaha is most concerned with the growing use of e-cigarettes and vaping by young people and kids who never smoked. Vaping and e-cigarettes can cause addiction in young people, and vaping flavors may make them more appealing. Blaha observes the dangers of vape flavors rather than the flavoring ingredients themselves.
He says that the key to flavors is their appeal to youth. Evidence suggestsldren like flavors such as bubble gum, candy, and fruit and are willing to try new ones. Many young people vape and use e-cigarettes because they enjoy the flavors.
It is clear that while more research will be needed to determine the harm caused by vaping, it’s already evident that “homemade” vape juices or those not regulated can introduce unknown substances and possibly harmful substances into users’ lungs. The addictive nature of nicotine, whether in vape juices or tobacco products, is another primary concern.
Blaha suggests that you discuss with your doctor all options for quitting smoking and using nicotine.