Please bring ‘vape nation’ to its cessation
Since the invention of the first contemporary e-cigarette in the early 2000s, the popularity of vaping has seen rapid growth. Although an age-old practice with its origins in oriental smoking devices like shisha, vaping has now fittingly entered the technocentric world of the 21st century and is quickly becoming one of the most lucrative industries out there, with the global e-cig market set to be worth $32bn by 2021. This is still far less than the market for traditional cigarettes but is an impressive stat regardless.
The reasons for vaping are varied and depend entirely on the individual. Many have turned to vaping as a so-called ‘healthier’ alternative to smoking cigarettes, whereas others – namely 14-year-old public school boys – have resorted to it with the belief that vaping makes them look ‘cool’ and vamps up their street cred. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
City air is bad enough already – why infiltrate it with your Vanilla Custard vapour?
Getting up at 8am to make – albeit 3 minutes late after queuing for an unnecessarily overpriced coffee, again – that 9am tutorial falls just short of one of the worst ways imaginable for a student suffering from a virulent hangover to start their day.
Battling through the crowds of hyperactive schoolchildren high off their morning Coco Pops and having to constantly be on the look out for keen-o cyclists and a rogue bus here and there when recklessly jaywalking, makes that morning sprint into uni very unpleasant indeed.
However, the pinnacle point of sheer displeasure arrives when a passing pedestrian exhales their Blackberry Pie-flavoured vape directly from their mouth into yours. Students are left coughing and spluttering at the nauseating, sickeningly sweet smell, whilst the culprit – regardless of being aware or not of the distress they have caused – strolls painlessly onwards, probably very much enjoying their morning meander.
Perhaps it tastes nice when it's first inhaled, but, oh boy, the exhaled concoction of their bad breath and Strawberry Cheesecake is a very different situation indeed. Pure minging.
Contrary to the popular belief, it just doesn’t look cool
Studies show that the number of people using vaping to help them quit smoking is falling dramatically, and instead, more people are using vapes to "boost their social image", which is a paradox and a half if there ever was one.
Admittedly, smoking can appear endearing and sexy at times, but who has ever been turned on by the sight of someone puffing on something which looks like a kazoo? No one. Ever.
A guy exhaling a large scented cloud of Blue Bubblegum vapour has nothing on young Leonardo di Caprio seductively smoking a cigarette in The Titanic. Vaping makes you look reminiscent of a Year 9 public school boy being an ‘absolute ledge’, dicking about with his vape in the Middle School common room, which is most definitely the vibe you do not want to be giving off when on the chirpse.
Its popularity is very questionable
Nowadays, spotting a vaper in and around uni has become rather like playing a game of Yellow Car on a motorway comprised of entirely yellow Lambos. In other words, they are absolutely everywhere, and even if you cannot see them, you can most definitely smell them.
The roots of its growing popularity (aside from opting to vape over smoking cigarettes) are all sorts of questionable. Health professionals have ceased to endorse vaping as 'healthy'. They are just another device you have to remember to charge up before leaving the house, and vape tanks have a tendency to leak everywhere, ruining your Fjallraven Kanken.
Social media also has such a monopoly over the popularity of consumer products nowadays. It's rare for a product to take off and materialise into a trend without a large exposure on platforms such as Instagram. Hence, the popularity of vaping appears even more bizarre, considering the fact that no celebrities or Instagram-famous figures are ever pictured vaping on their accounts. If Kylie Jenner’s feed featured flawless pictures of vape seductively escaping from her surgically-enlarged lips, then the popularity of vaping would be understandable. But, so to speak, vaping is very rarely endorsed on social media – if ever. So what is it exactly that entices our generation to vape?
Another wee problem is that it could be very harmful after all
Overall, possibly the most frustrating thing about vaping is the very fact that it is perceived as a ‘healthier’ alternative to smoking in the first place. Whilst it is true that e-cig vapour contains less harmful substances and carcinogens than traditional cigarette smoke, that is not to say it should ever be coined as ‘healthy’. Being less harmful, and being healthy, are two very different things.
The long-term effects of vaping on the human body are a largely unchartered area in the medical world. We are now well aware of the dangers and health risks of smoking, but that is because we have had the liberty and technology to observe these effects over a period of many decades.
Modern e-cigs have been around for too short a time to decipher just how harmful vaping could be, so the branding of it as ‘healthy’, and its growing popularity amongst the younger generations, is very worrying affairs indeed.
That said, research has shown vaping to be harmful. In a recent study on mice, it was found that the high levels of nicotine in electronic cigarettes caused non-alcohol fatty liver diseases in mice, with the researchers concluding that e-cigarettes are not as safe as consumers have been led to believe. Further, inhaling diacetyl (a substance found in many vapes) has been known to cause bronchiolitis obliterans, more commonly referred to as "popcorn lung", which causes scarring of the alveoli in the lungs and results in the thickening and narrowing of the airways. Sounds peng. "Popcorn lung" may sound jokes but in reality, it is a serious lung disease that causes coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath. It's not ideal for your body and lungs, let alone the sesh.
The long-term effects of e-cigarettes on liver disease, diabetes, heart disease or strokes may be relatively unknown, but you know what isn't unknown and is very much scientifically-proven? The fact that vaping makes you look like an absolute lemon (who smells really bad and annoys absolutely everyone in their close vicinity). So why on earth bother?
(Cover photo credit: Neil Stewart)