A cloud of addiction: how vaping has created a new generation of addicts

Matthews, Josh, Matthews, Miriam and Cherian, Veneetha (2023) A cloud of addiction: how vaping has created a new generation of addicts. British Journal of General Practice, 73 (suppl1). bjgp23X734325. ISSN 0960-1643

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3399/bjgp23X734325


Background The practice of vaping has become increasingly prevalent in recent years not only as a means for smoking cessation but also carrying the perception of being a safer alternative to cigarette smoking.

Aim This literature review considered the question, ‘Does vaping trap young people into addiction with subsequent health hazards?’, and aimed to investigate whether vaping was safe, had addictive consequences, and whether it influenced the younger generation.

Method The PubMed database was searched for cohort studies, cross-sectional surveys, case studies, and data analysis over a 5-year period and published in the English language. Six studies pertaining to young e-cigarette users, examining the health effects and addictive qualities of e-cigarettes, were selected for the literature review.

Results E-cigarette use is unsafe and may even lead to acute, severe, life-threatening bronchiolitis that damage the lungs. Further, it leads to conventional cigarette use and addiction — 20% of e-cigarette users transition to cigarette use and 75% report use of both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. Nicotine dependence was found to be two times higher in e-cigarette users compared to conventional cigarette smokers. Flavours were a major reason for the initiation of vaping in the younger generation. Flavoured e-cigarettes had high satisfaction rates and facilitated addiction.

Conclusion Vaping is an unsafe habit with addictive consequences. Vaping is facilitated by false perceptions of safety and satisfying flavours. Health education and public awareness are key to combating misinformation and addiction. Further studies are needed to examine the long-term effects of vaping.

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