The question of the health effects of vaping and its long-touted efficacy as a tool to quit smoking usually follow any non-vaper discussion of the lifestyle. In every snazzy bar/lounge-style smoke shop and on all of the colorful e-juice labels, you can still find the sober black text on white background label warning that nicotine is an addictive substance not suitable for minors. In spite of this, there is a persistent idea that vaping is “healthier” than cigarettes, and can even help cigarette smokers quit smoking by using a safer alternative to their nicotine fix. Vaping Daily, a major vape information website, has several “quit smoking” guides that make similar claims about vaping, but one can easily see links for “the best starting vapes” on the same page as these guides, so clearly there is a financial incentive to push that narrative. There is lip service to “cognitive behavioral therapy” and other discipline techniques to help fight addiction, but it doesn’t take long to find a link to a $70 vape mod that promises “superior cloud volume.” Definitive answers from researchers about the health impact compared to tobacco are scant, given how relatively new vaping still is. What can be said is that younger people are very much drawn to it, and any conclusions that can be drawn about their health have to factor in their often overworked and underpaid lifestyles. Qnotes spoke to a couple of young men in Charlotte and asked them about their vaping habits and health.
Peter is a 21-year-old pizza delivery driver who works night shifts. He has been vaping for at least two years, and frequently does so at work while on deliveries. His vape is a sleek, black-with-gold-trim device with angular surfaces like a cut gem. It looks like an iPhone that Louis Vuitton might have designed, but Peter apparently paid less than a $100 for the whole system. Peter says that he’s never smoked cigarettes, and that he got into vaping both as a “social thing” and as a way to help him stay awake and focused when he couldn’t justify consuming more caffeine tablets and energy drinks. He works long hours, and it’s not uncommon for him to get overtime. He admits that he does not have the healthiest habits, but does not buy into the idea that vaping nicotine is especially bad for him when it doesn’t have the tar and other carcinogens present in cigarettes.
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