yuck! Don’t Vape This – Scope

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According to a national survey published in Open JAMA Network. The survey, which asked more than 6,000 teens, young adults and adults aged 13 to 40 about their vaping habits, is the first to examine nicotine-free vaping in a national sample.

Although some of these non-nicotine substances are safe when ingested, inhaling them in vaporized form could damage the lungs, according to the Stanford Medicine scientists who conducted the research. Several chemicals, solvents, and flavorings found in nicotine-free vapes are also found in nicotine vapes and are known to have harmful effects independent of nicotine.

“What stands out most from our results is the fact that nearly 14% of young adolescents and 24% of young adults have used vaping products without nicotine,” said the study’s lead author, Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, PhD, professor of pediatrics at Stanford Medicine.

Nicotine-free vapes currently escape Food and Drug Administration regulations that cover nicotine e-cigarettes or ingested supplements, meaning there are no restrictions on devices, ingredients, or marketing. And there is no age to buy it. And many are marketed with unsubstantiated health claims, Halpern-Felsher said, making them safe for teens and adults, even though they’ve never been tested for safety.

“Anything you vape — anything you buy without a prescription, heating up, and inhaling — is bad for your lungs,” Halpern-Felsher said.

An increase in vapes without nicotine

The Stanford research team surveyed teens, young adults, and adults living across the United States, studying four age groups: 13-17, 18-20, 21-24, and 25-40. The groups represent a range of developmental stages: early adolescence, early adulthood below the legal age for the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes, young adulthood before full brain maturation, and adulthood. The gender, race and ethnicity distributions of the participants were matched to the US population.

Participants answered questions about their use of nicotine-free vapes, vapes containing nicotine (or e-cigarettes), and combustible cigarettes. The survey asked participants if they had ever used these products, if they had used them recently, and when they first tried each product. The survey also included questions about usage patterns and specific brands, flavors and ingredients used in nicotine-free vapes.

In total, about 26% of participants had tried a vape without nicotine; nearly 17% had used an e-cigarette without nicotine in the past 30 days and some 12% had used one in the past 7 days. Use differed by age, with the highest rates of non-nicotine use in the 21-24 age group (around 38%), followed by the 25-40 age group at almost 33%.

About 14% of 13-17 year olds and 24% of 18-20 year olds said they had tried a vape without nicotine, with more than half having used these devices multiple times. On average, participants reported trying nicotine-free vapes at a younger age than nicotine vapes, raising concerns that nicotine-free vapes are a gateway to nicotine-containing products. nicotine.

‘What’s in my vape?’

Many young people surveyed did not know what they were vaping. About 24% of 13-17 year olds and 19% of 18-20 year olds who said they had vaped said they did not know what was in the nicotine-free vapes they used.

Popular vaping ingredients among teens and young adults included tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an active compound in marijuana, melatonin, cannabidiol (CBD, a derivative of marijuana that does not produce a high), essential oils , caffeine and tea. Among adults aged 25-40, caffeine, vitamin B, tea and THC were popular. The full list of nicotine-free vaping substances included vitamin C, lavender, essential oils, propylene glycol, glycerin, and other flavorings.

While the use of marijuana compounds was unsurprising, the popularity of other substances was unexpected and concerning, Halpern-Felsher said.

Certain chemicals added to foods, including vitamins and some flavorings, have been given a “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS designation by the Food and Drug Administration. But that’s not the full picture. “The GRAS designation means something can be safely consumed by eating or salve on the skin, but that’s very different from heating a substance and inhaling the resulting aerosol,” Halpern said. -Felsher. “This is where it gets concerning for your lungs.”

It’s unclear what dose, if any, of these substances can be safely inhaled, and what the risks or side effects may be, Halpern-Felsher noted. Additionally, nicotine-free vapes share ingredients with vapes that contain nicotine – including propylene glycol, glycerin, and aromatic compounds – that are known to be harmful to the lungs.

Unknown Hazards

For several commonly vaped substances, our existing knowledge of their biological activity suggests they are harmful to the lungs and should make users wary, Halpern-Felsher said.

“We really need toxicologists and other scientists to help us understand what these chemicals are doing to our bodies and by what mechanisms,” she said, noting that, for example, large amounts of vitamins can have toxic effects. Pulmonary surfactant, which the body produces to lubricate the air sacs in the lungs, is an oily substance; Inhaling vaporized oily substances such as essential oils, glycerin (a common ingredient in all vapes), and aromatic compounds can interfere with lung function.

The take-home message for everyone, but especially young people, is that any inhaled aerosol — other than doctor-prescribed drugs, such as asthma treatments — can be dangerous.

“During COVID, there has never been a more important time to keep our lungs healthy,” Halpern-Felsher said.

She hopes the findings will spur policy change to better regulate the vaping industry, especially to protect teens.

“We can’t continue to have nicotine-free vaping products on the open market for anyone to buy, especially since young people share them and don’t know what they’re using. We need regulation and labelling, and we need to make sure they don’t fall into the hands of young people.”

Photo by Hazem


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