Better to be honest: I've been addicted to vaping for a year. Especially those neon disposable containers called "Elf Bar" and "Lost Mary" (no, I have no idea why) - which taste and pack like candy and are clearly made to please children.
My favorite flavors were "Gummy Bear", "Blue Razz Lemonade" and my favorite "Triple Mango". Just writing this makes me nauseous. I'm a little embarrassed, but I'd better be honest. Much has been made about the teenage vaping trend sweeping the UK and the predatory tactics of candy shops selling e-cigarettes - which, like real ones, are only legally sold to people over 18 - young people.
But at the not too young age of 43, I also found myself hopelessly addicted. As the health editor at The Mail on Sunday, who has published numerous reports on vaping research, I feel like I really should have known better. But maybe that's the point.
It all started last summer. Part of my team researched how easy it was for people under 16 to buy e-cigarettes (the answer, as we all know, was very easy). So we had a dozen or so things in a drawer at work, where they lay for several months.
Research shows that the top reasons young people try to vape are "to see what it's like", "because everyone is doing it" and "to experience the flavors".
Mail on Sunday Health editor Barney Calman (pictured), 43, has been vaping for a year
And although my youth is now a very distant memory, I can imagine it. I was curious, so I tried it. And I loved it. At first I realized that I was just wrong. But then I realized I couldn't stop.
Nicotine – the psychoactive and addictive component of tobacco and vaping – is a unique compound.
It has a slightly stimulating and depressing effect on the nervous system. Smoking or vaping means the rapid absorption of nicotine through the mouth and lungs. It enters the bloodstream and then reaches the brain.
You feel a slight buzz as dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter, is released, followed by a feeling of relaxation. This quickly wears off and you start craving another hit.
And boy, I couldn't wait. At work, I would always pop outside to 'join in'. I tried to keep it a secret from co-workers - paranoid about being judged - as they sneezed in the office parking lot, hoping no one would see me.
THAT'S A FACT
According to the charity Material Focus, around 1.3 million plastic vaporizers are thrown away every week in the UK.
My partner, whom I told immediately, disapproved of this and tried every tactic - ridicule, blame, hard talk - to get me to stop.
I wanted to stop, really. But I just couldn't find the motivation.
I was aware of scary stories. For example, in 2019, an outbreak of vaping-related lung damage – also known as EVALI – broke out in the US, killing 65 people and hospitalizing thousands more. However, it has been particularly linked to counterfeit cannabis vaporizers adulterated with dangerous vitamin E acetate oil.
There was also a panic on social media about something called a "popcorn lung". It's a real lung scarring condition seen in factory workers exposed to diacetyl, a chemical used to flavor popcorn (hence the name). Diacetyl has been found in some vaporizers, in small amounts - not enough to cause problems - but is banned in products in the UK.
Cancer Research UK clearly states: “E-cigarettes do not popcorn your lungs. There have been no confirmed cases of popcorn in people who vape.”
Still, I don't think getting addicted to anything is a good idea. Until they find a way to recycle disposable vaporizers - which are made of plastic and metal and contain batteries - they are an environmental nightmare when thrown away.
Ironically - given that vaping can help people quit smoking - I turned to another smoking cessation aid, nicotine gum, in an attempt to wean myself off vaporizers. That didn't work either.
But then I caught a cold and didn't feel like breathing at all for a week. It was the pure break I needed.
It's been about a month since I last vaped, except for the photos you see here.
It's just for illustration purposes - I didn't inhale as they say, and I'm pretty sure it's over.
The reason I am making this public now is because my brief love affair with vaporizers has convinced me that the government must now act to restrict its use. It's not because we've discovered some disease or terrible harm associated with vaping. There is no evidence of this, despite what you may have read elsewhere.
Scientists agree that vaping - which involves heating a nicotine-containing liquid to produce a vapor that can be inhaled - is virtually free of short-term risks. The message from the UK medical establishment is strong that anyone who smokes and is unable to stop should consider switching.
Still, no one thinks watching a new generation who never smoked start smoking - and become addicted to nicotine - is a good plan.
Not only are disposable vaporizers everywhere you look (my local post office now sells them, which seems odd), but in my experience they're also incredibly addictive.
Three years ago, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty urged ministers to take seriously concerns about rising teenage vaping rates.
Professor Whitty told the Mail in February 2020: "The test of whether a product is aimed at children is whether it is increasingly used by children - and that will lead to action." Well, the moment has come.
Last week, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) released its latest research data on vaping trends. They found that the number of children experimenting with vaping increased by more than 50% in one year. Data shows that the number of 11- to 17-year-olds who try vaping "once or twice" has increased from 7.7% last year to 11.6%.
And - surprise, surprise - most often they bought disposable cake steamers.
ASH chief executive Deborah Arnott said the significant increase was a "red flag" that should encourage policymakers to improve regulation.
"There is potential for young people to give it a try to see what it's like to become regular users," she said. “We know that vaping is much less harmful than smoking – so if someone smokes, it is a better option. But we don't know the long-term effects, so we don't want many young people who have never smoked to start."
Measures suggested by experts include making disposable vaporizers less affordable, taxing them more and making them less attractive by checking how they are packaged, labeled and promoted.
As far as I know, these were among the many measures successfully taken to reduce smoking. See, I'm an ex-smoker.
I grew up in a time, not so long ago, when smoking was everywhere. In the 1980s, when I was a child, the damage it caused was well known - the link between smoking and lung cancer had been established decades earlier.
The bad old days of the 1940s, when cigarette advertisements claimed that smoking was healthy and "doctor recommended," are over.
But tobacco companies have come up with millions of other ways to make smoking more attractive.
Corner stores were covered with cigarette advertisements. The graphics were sleek with bold colors - Silk Cut was purple and white, Benson and Hedges was gold, and Marlborough was white and red.
They were also advertised on billboards - until 2003.
But more importantly, at least for me, adults (30% of them in the mid-90s). I also wanted to be seen as an adult. So I recorded it as soon as I could when I was 14.
So are most of my friends, and so is one in five teenagers our age. If we couldn't find a vendor willing to sell, we went to the vending machine (these were only banned in 2011).
When I was a teenager, I smoked no more than ten, maybe twenty a day. One of my first journalism jobs was at a magazine, and the office was always foggy with cigarette smoke.
But when the regulations came into force, smoking opportunities dwindled. In 2007 came the indoor ban and I had no desire to hang out in the pub with tough guys.
In 2008, when I started working at MoS, these horrible pictures of smoking-related illnesses started appearing on the packaging.
A friend was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and her consultant told her to stop. I gave up solidarity - but it wasn't difficult. Back then I was only smoking one or two a day. More importantly, he has lost the visibility he once had. somehow I forgot.
CANDY SHOP: Cheap candy-flavored vaporizers get 11-year-olds addicted to nicotine products
A selection of sweet nicotine vaping products that kids will love
At that time, every fifth adult smoked. And measures such as prohibiting the display of cigarettes at points of sale and smoking in cars (2015), standard "simple" packaging (2016) brought the number of smokers to just 14 percent of adults.
The wide availability of smoking cessation aids such as patches and gum also helped.
About half of the adults who vape are ex-smokers, and another third are current smokers (possibly vaping to cut down on smoking). Even the NHS now recommends using them to quit smoking.
Only 8% of adult vapers "never smoked" and half of the 7.6% of 11-17 year olds who never smoked. These are the groups that concern experts the most.
I asked Professor Alan Boobis, a toxicology expert at Imperial College London who has studied the physical effects of vaping, if he thought I made the right choice to quit smoking. He cautiously replied, "I don't think anyone who has looked closely at the research has said that vaping is harmful."
Professor Boobis and his team carefully analyzed the contents of the vaporizer and discovered that while there are many different chemicals in addition to nicotine - mainly preservatives and flavorings - the levels of most of these compounds, including the most harmful ones, are "very low". and comparable to or less than the amount normally found in the air," he said.
It has been suggested that vaping may be a transitional drug, as some research suggests teens who vape experience more cannabis use and other risky behaviors.
But it is an association. Experts say it's just as likely that young adventurous people often choose to vape (and do it better than smoking).
The concern that vaping will lead to smoking is not supported by the evidence: smoking rates are declining.
Nicotine itself has not been found to be harmful, even with long-term use. "Drug regulators monitor nicotine replacement products and say the risk is very low," said Professor Boobis.
Studies of the lungs of people who vape have also so far revealed nothing of concern.
THAT'S A FACT
Nearly 56 million Elf Bars - the UK's most popular e-cigarette - were sold in 2022, up 900% year on year
“But because vaping is relatively new, we don't have data on decades of exposure. We know that some of the harmful effects of cigarettes, for example on the heart and brain, take years to develop. tits.
"We don't think we'll see the same things with vaping, but we're not sure."
For this reason, he says he would "play it safe" and try to dissuade young people - or slightly older people like me - from getting involved.
Speaking to the Medical Minefield podcast this week, Respiratory Specialist Professor John Britton said: "When you vape, you're getting something into your lungs that's probably not a smart move." Some may develop lung or heart problems later in life as a result of vaping, although the extent of this effect is very small.
"So compared to smoking, vaping is much less harmful - but compared to not vaping there are more risks."
It is enough for me.
Of course, if vaping keeps young people from smoking, great.
But now it's like the Wild West out there. It makes no sense to put colored and flavored vaporizers in candy stores, except to encourage kids to buy them and get addicted (like me).
If action is taken, it should be carefully considered. Studies show that up to half of people believe that smoking and vaping cause similar harm. Experts say that if vaping comes with health warnings or cigarettes are packaged simply, these misconceptions may persist or deepen.
But making disposable vapes a little more expensive (a shop near me sells a brand that costs just £2 a vape) will likely make it a lot less appealing to kids.
As someone who has ended the massive consumption of tobacco but managed to quit smoking, I often feel lucky. Up to two-thirds of long-term smokers slowly die from terrible diseases such as lung cancer.
It is often said that if you quit smoking before the age of 30, you will not develop these problems any more than a non-smoker.
Well, fingers crossed.
Vaping was fun while it lasted. But no matter how small the risk is, I don't want to take it.
I don't believe in childcare and we all make choices in life, but it amazes me that public health legislators have taken action to reduce tobacco use for so long. We will not let history repeat itself.
What advice would you give teens about vaping? ›
- Look for a natural conversation starter. ...
- Explain that most e-cigarettes do contain nicotine. ...
- Point out the dangers of vaping without judgment and let them know you're concerned about their health. ...
- Remind them that not everyone vapes.
- Create a vape-free policy. One of the best ways to stop vaping at your school is to create a vape-free policy. ...
- Install vape detectors. ...
- Educate your staff. ...
- Educate your students. ...
- Enforce consequences. ...
- Create a healthy school environment. ...
Invite your child to talk, be patient and ready to listen.
If your child is caught vaping or admits to vaping, try to stay calm and non-judgmental. Listen, don't lecture. Try to understand their feelings. Avoid showing judgment.
What's the Bottom Line on the Risks of E-cigarettes for Kids, Teens, and Young Adults? The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults. Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.How do you convince someone to stop vaping? ›
- Ask them how they are.
- Remind them you're there.
- Be positive.
- Go to smokefree places.
- Do active things.
- Remind them why they're quitting.
- Take them to a vape store.
- Exercise. Physical activity is a reliable way to crush a craving, according to many experts and young people alike. ...
- Use a distraction. ...
- Lean on your support system. ...
- Find stress solutions. ...
- Celebrate your accomplishments.
Typical consequences may include confiscation of the vape, notification of parents, an administrative investigation and in some cases requiring the student attend an anti-smoking or anti-vaping class.What concerns do school officials have about vaping? ›
Educators and health experts worry about the long-term effects of nicotine on students' developing brains. And there are added concerns in states where marijuana has been legalized that students may now have easier access to the drug, which can be used with easily concealed vape devices.How big of a problem is vaping in schools? ›
The National Youth Tobacco Survey used a web-based survey in 2021 and 2022, with half of students taking it in school in 2021 and nearly all taking it from school in spring 2022. This year, 14 percent of high school students and 3 percent of middle school students report that they had vaped in the past 30 days.What are 5 risks of vaping? ›
- Asthma. Vaping can make you more likely to get asthma and other lung conditions. ...
- Lung scarring. ...
- Organ damage. ...
- EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury). ...
- Addiction. ...
- Cigarette smoking. ...
- Second-hand exposure. ...
What damage does vaping do to children? ›
One e-liquid pod can contain as much nicotine as a packet of cigarettes. Nicotine exposure during the teenage years can harm brain development, which continues until about age 25. It can impact learning, memory and attention, and increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.Should I punish my child for vaping? ›
Now that you are aware of the hazards brought by e-cigarettes, you have every right to punish your teen for vaping. It does not matter if they are only using it for recreational purposes. Vaping is still addictive and damaging. Some ways to punish your child are scolding and grounding them.Can a doctor tell if you vape? ›
Medical tests can detect nicotine in people's urine, blood, saliva, hair, and nails.Is there a healthy vape? ›
The reality of any vaping device, whether marketed as a “healthy” option or not, is that they are unsafe to use. The lack of research combined with a lack of federal regulation means that there is simply no evidence suggesting “healthy vapes” offer any benefit or a healthy alternative to nicotine-based devices.Can your lungs recover from vaping? ›
Breathing in the harmful chemicals from vaping products can cause irreversible (cannot be cured) lung damage, lung disease and, in some cases, death. Some chemicals in vaping products can also cause cardiovascular disease and biological changes that are associated with cancer development.What is the hardest day of quitting vaping? ›
The withdrawal timeline is also different for everyone, but according to a 2015 study, symptoms like these set in between 4 and 24 hours after the last use, peak on day 3, and typically subside during the following 3-4 weeks.How long does it take your lungs to heal from vaping? ›
Quitting, however, will help your lungs rebound. “After one month, your lung capacity improves; there's noticeably less shortness of breath and coughing,” Dr. Djordjevic says. (Here's what you need to do in order to breathe better.)What happens 24 hours after quitting vaping? ›
Most people should expect to experience some of the following vaping withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, anxiety or irritability, to start within about 24 hours of the last vape. It's important to be mentally prepared to accept vaping withdrawal symptoms and know they'll pass in a short time.What happens to your body after quitting vaping? ›
The Benefits of Quitting
Stopping vaping can help you avoid serious health risks, such as cardiovascular disease, lung damage, and respiratory problems. By quitting vaping, you'll be able to reduce your chances of having a heart attack and other heart-related issues.
The good news is that the uncomfortable feelings of withdrawal will fade over time if you stay away from vapes. The longer you go without vaping, the more your body can get used to being nicotine-free. Over time, you will gain more confidence in your ability to stay vape-free and regain control of your body and mind.
Should I punish my 12 year old for vaping? ›
Before giving them a harsh punishment, make sure you talk to them about why they're vaping and how often. Give them the low-down on the negative effects of vaping, but don't scare them into throwing it away. Always give them appropriate consequences and be consistent with your discipline approach.Can a 16 year old vape without nicotine? ›
Because it is defined as a tobacco product, it is illegal for a retailer to sell zero-nicotine e-liquid to anyone under 21.How common is vaping in high school? ›
2022 Findings on Youth E-Cigarette Use
In 2022, about 1 in 10 or more than 2.5 million U.S. middle and high school students currently used e-cigarettes (past 30-day). 14.1% (2.14 million) of high school students and 3.3% (380,000) of middle school students reported current e-cigarette use.
Brain risks: Nicotine affects your brain development. This can make it harder to learn and concentrate. Some of the brain changes are permanent and can affect your mood and ability to control your impulses as an adult.What should schools do to address the issues of vaping and traditional tobacco use? ›
- Make sure faculty and staff also understand the risks of commercial tobacco use. E-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can harm the developing adolescent brain. ...
- Issue an official staff memo or email. ...
- Hold an annual presentation or training. ...
- Promote Quit Partner.
Nicotine use may cause you to become more easily addicted to harder drugs. Using nicotine may make it harder for you to learn or to control your impulses. Your brain is still developing until about age 25. Using nicotine as a teen could be harmful to your brain.What age group is most likely to vape? ›
Teens between 15 and 17 years have a 1600% higher chance of using vapes than adults between 25 and 34 do.Why do teens start vaping? ›
Why teens smoke. Young people start smoking or vaping for a variety of reasons; peer pressure, the belief that it relieves stress or looks cool, to lose or control weight, easy access, and role models or family members who use tobacco.How does vaping affect the brain? ›
These risks include nicotine addiction, mood disorders, and permanent lowering of impulse control. Nicotine also changes the way synapses are formed, which can harm the parts of the brain that control attention and learning.
Vapers tongue is a phrase used to describe not being able to taste vape juice. It is said that most vapers will experience this from time to time. This inconvenience usually lasts for 1-3 days but at worst can last for up to two weeks! Why is it happening?
Can doctors tell your parents if you vape under 18? ›
Q: Will my doctor tell my parents what we talked about? A: Your doctor will keep the details of what you talk about private, or confidential. The only times when your doctor cannot honor your privacy is when someone is hurting you or you are going to hurt yourself or someone else.Is Vapers tongue permanent? ›
Symptoms of vaper's tongue can include a numb tongue, failure to taste your favourite e-liquid flavour or even experiencing an unpleasant taste from your trusted daily vape. Fear not, because vaper's tongue isn't anything to worry about as it's not permanent and there are many, many suggestions on how to cure it!What is worse smoking or vaping? ›
1: Vaping is less harmful than smoking, but it's still not safe. E-cigarettes heat nicotine (extracted from tobacco), flavorings and other chemicals to create an aerosol that you inhale. Regular tobacco cigarettes contain 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic.How can you tell if someone is vaping in your house? ›
- A sweet scent in the air. ...
- Unfamiliar pens and USB drives. ...
- Drinking more water. ...
- Nosebleeds. ...
- Smoker's cough or mouth sores. ...
- New batteries and chargers. ...
- Discarded vaping pods and devices.
Nicotine poisoning often causes nausea, vomiting, dizziness, tremors (shakiness), and sweating, and can make the heart beat much faster than normal. Severe poisoning can cause seizures. It can even cause death.What are the benefits of vaping? ›
Benefits of vaping
Vaping can help some people quit smoking. Vaping is usually cheaper than smoking. Vaping is not harmless, but it is much less harmful than smoking. Vaping is less harmful to those around you than smoking, as there's no current evidence that second-hand vapour is dangerous to others.
It may contain a number of harmful substances, including nicotine.” In a paper in the journal Pediatrics, doctors looked at how nicotine from e-cigarette aerosol may affect children. Reviewing past research, they found that nicotine can harm the nervous, respiratory, immune and cardiovascular systems.How do you deal with a child who is vaping? ›
If your child is already vaping or smoking, or if you suspect they may be, try to avoid getting angry at them or making threats. Instead, stay calm and try having a conversation with them using a reasonable 'adult-to-adult' tone. Use open-ended questions.What to do if a child gets hold of a vape? ›
Vaping products contain nicotine, which is a highly toxic substance. If your child has swallowed, sucked on, or had any contact with a vape pen, cartridge or vaping product, call IPC immediately at 1-800-222-1222 for advice specific to your situation.How long should a 13 year old be grounded? ›
Don't Make the Grounding Too Long
Grounding for a week, or two or three weekends is probably sufficient to get the message across without losing it over time. A month may be too long. As the parent of a teen, a shorter time gives you a lesser chance of caving in and reducing the grounding period later.
Can my parents tell if I Vaped? ›
Parents may smell odors if a child is vaping in the bathroom or bedroom, and they may spot symptoms if their child vapes a synthetic drug, he added. “Parents may also notice generalized symptoms of vaping, such as mouth sores or infections, chronic respiratory inflammation and dry eyes,” he said.Does vaping leave a smell in a room? ›
Similarly, the place that people spend most of their time vaping is likely to have a higher incidence of residue and odor than the rest of the house. Vapor and odors are supposed to dissipate not long after the vaporizer is turned off.How do you detox your body from nicotine fast? ›
- Drink water. When you drink more water, more nicotine is released from your body through urine.
- Exercise. This increases your body's metabolism rate, which may lead you to clear nicotine faster. ...
- Eat foods rich in antioxidants.
There is no exact number of puffs that are considered safe. It is recommended to be aware of your smoking habits to monitor if you are taking too much. Vapes may be less dangerous than traditional cigarettes; it is essential to know your limit. You can enjoy and have a great vaping experience while not overusing it.Can you get a vape with 0 nicotine? ›
Vapes can have nicotine vape juice or non-nicotine vape juice, which can be used in normal vaporizer devices. A no nicotine vape is a vape juice or disposable vaporizer device with no nicotine. This means that the vape juice or vape device is not chemically addictive in a nicotine way.Are melatonin vapes safe? ›
"Vaping melatonin can access your lungs and blood stream instantly, and typically these pens offer a lot more melatonin than the body is used to," he told POPSUGAR. This means that you could be consuming more melatonin than your body is intended to have, which could mess with your circadian rhythm.What are the vaping recommendations? ›
- CDC and FDA recommend that people not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly from informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online dealers.
- Vitamin E acetate should not be added to any e-cigarette, or vaping, products.
the current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking. nearly half the population (44.8%) don't realise e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking. there is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers.What is safer vaping or smoking? ›
1: Vaping is less harmful than smoking, but it's still not safe. E-cigarettes heat nicotine (extracted from tobacco), flavorings and other chemicals to create an aerosol that you inhale. Regular tobacco cigarettes contain 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic.What are 3 consequences of vaping? ›
Common side effects of vaping include dry mouth, coughing, nausea and headaches. Serious long-term side effects of vaping include an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, lung damage, lung disease, seizures, and nicotine addiction and poisoning.
Why is vaping toxic? ›
Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive and toxic to developing fetuses. Nicotine exposure can also harm adolescent and young adult brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s. E-cigarette aerosol can contain chemicals that are harmful to the lungs.