This is a controversial topic, and one that young people might not want to read! So, let’s start with something we can agree on. Nicotine is very addictive. The more you vape, the more your brain and body get used to having nicotine, and the harder it is to go without it. When you go without vaping, the nicotine level in your bloodstream drops, which can cause nasty feelings, physical symptoms, and urges to vape even more. Like anything else, it is an easy addiction to form. Even if you don’t vape every day, you can still get addicted.
Addiction in the growing brain may mean that you are more likely to get addicted to other substances later in life. Studies show that vaping makes it more likely that someone will try other tobacco products, like regular cigarettes. Many vapes are made by the same companies that produce regular cigarettes. Their marketing targets young people by making fun flavours for vapes and showing young, healthy people vaping. What they are really trying to do is to make you into their new, lifetime customer.
Everyone is different and how quickly someone gets addicted varies. While you might start having it every so often and not feeling attached to it, over time you are likely to need it more and more. Of course, some people will argue, well what about vapes that don’t contain nicotine. Realistically, most vaping juices do have nicotine in them. However, even those that don’t do have chemicals in them, which can still irritate and damage the lungs.
It seems like there are endless reasons to quit vaping, or not to start at all! The long-term health consequences of vaping are not known. Remember that people used to think smoking regular cigarettes was good for them! Immediate risks are examples of how nicotine affects your brain development, which 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. Finally, think of the money. Vaping is expensive! The cost of the cartridges over time starts to add up.
Also vaping is illegal for those under 18. In 2020 the Government prohibited vaping at schools and early childhood centres and prohibited vape advertising and sponsorship.
So, it seems pretty clear that vaping is bad, right? Well maybe it’s not so simple.
A decade ago, the NZ Government made a goal to be smokefree by 2025. However, vaping is often thought of as a tool that can help people quit smoking – by switching to nicotine vapes, then nicotine-free vapes, and then eventually quitting altogether. Therefore, any introduction of vaping regulations must consider the smokefree action plan as well. The two are intrinsically linked, with vaping an effective tool towards Aotearoa achieving the smokefree goal.
Nancy Loucas, the co-director of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) has said that “As the most effective smoking cessation tool in history, vaping has been key to reducing our national smoking rate in the past decade.” She believes that encouraging smokers to switch to safer and less expensive vaping products is critical to achieving the smokefree ambition.
So, what do you think? On the one hand, vaping is an effective tool to help long-term smokers quit, but on the other more and more young people are getting introduced to addictive substances. Where do we draw the line?
Image credit – https://cbdoracle.com/
Critical Thinking Questions:
- Is it dangerous that young people can buy vape products online?
- What is another long- or short-term effect of using nicotine products?
- Is vaping bad for the environment? Why / why not?
Practical Thinking Questions:
- What are other effective ways to quit smoking, and do these methods work?
- What would you personally think of an immediate vaping ban?
- What are the pros and what are the cons of an immediate vaping ban?