Smoking and vaping can kill you! As teenagers, we often think we are invincible, impervious to any dangers. However, even the occasional smoke or puff can have lasting detrimental effects on our bodies. Smoking and vaping cause many health problems, including cancer, heart disease, and lung disease. In this article, I will explore their dangers in detail. I will also discuss how you can protect yourself from the harmful effects of these habits and what steps you can take to quit smoking and vaping for good.
One of the most significant dangers of smoking and vaping is the increased risk of cancer. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide and is responsible for an estimated 6 million deaths every year. (1) Chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco products, such as tar and nicotine, can cause cell mutations, leading to cancer.
Lung cancer is the most common cancer linked to smoking, but it is not the only one. Smokers have an increased risk of developing mouth, throat, pancreas, and kidney cancer. (2) Even exposure to secondhand smoke, can increase the risk of cancer in non-smoking individuals. (3) The risk of smoking and vaping is even higher in teenagers, as we are more vulnerable to advertisements and peer pressure.
Vaping, often marketed as a safer alternative to smoking, is not without cancer risks. Many e-cigarettes and vaping products contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals like formaldehyde (that is what they put in dead bodies to preserve them!), which are known to cause DNA damage and increase cancer risk.
Smoking and vaping increase the risk of cancer. Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths worldwide and is responsible for an estimated 6 million deaths yearly. It causes cancer in many organs. Secondhand smoke can also increase cancer risk. Vaping is often marketed as a safer alternative to smoking but releases harmful chemicals like nicotine and formaldehyde, which can increase cancer risk.
Another danger associated with smoking and vaping is the increased risk of heart disease. Smoking damages the blood vessels and increases the risk of blood clots, which can lead to heart attacks and stroke. The chemicals in tobacco smoke also damage the lining of the blood vessels and contribute to the buildup of plaque, which can narrow the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease. (4)
In addition to increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke, smoking and vaping can also cause other heart-related problems. It is important to note that while the heart disease rates are lower for those who switch from smoking to vaping, the risks are not eliminated.
While we might not be as concerned about heart attacks and strokes as teenagers, we must practice healthy habits at a young age and protect our developing hearts so we can lead long lives without complications.
Smoking and vaping increase the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and other heart-related problems. While the chances may be lower for those who switch from smoking to vaping, they are not eliminated.
Lung disease is another danger associated with smoking and vaping. Smoking is the leading cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung conditions that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD is a progressive disease that causes breathing difficulties and can be fatal. (5)
Smokers are also at an increased risk of developing other lung problems, like pneumonia and bronchitis. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the tiny structures in the airways that help clear irritants from the lungs, making it easier for infections to take hold. (6)
Vaping also causes lung problems, including a severe lung injury known as EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury). EVALI causes by severe respiratory symptoms, including difficulty breathing, chest pain, and coughing, and can be fatal. The exact cause of EVALI is not yet fully understood, but it may be related to the chemicals present in some e-cigarette and vaping products. (7) The number of teenagers hospitalized for EVALI is rapidly increasing as more choose to use vapes.
Disease aside, vaping makes it much harder to breathe. A close friend of mine who had been an athlete all their life started vaping a few years ago. After realizing they could not even run short distances, they took steps to quit. They started by using a nicotine-free vape then eventually stopped altogether. They immediately noticed the difference in their health.
Smoking and vaping can lead to lung disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung problems such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Vaping also causes EVALI, a severe lung injury that causes respiratory symptoms and can be fatal. Vaping also decreases your stamina and can be detrimental, especially to athletes.
Other Health Problems
In addition to the more well-known dangers of smoking and vaping, such as cancer, heart disease, and respiratory problems, these habits can also cause many other health problems. Some other health risks include:
Smoking and vaping can damage the blood vessels and reduce blood flow, leading to problems such as cold hands and feet and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Smoking and vaping can reduce fertility in both men and women. In men, smoking can damage the sperm, making it less likely to fertilize an egg. In women, smoking can cause problems with the fallopian tubes and the cervix, making it harder to get pregnant.
Smoking and vaping can accelerate aging, causing wrinkles and age spots to appear earlier.
Smoking and vaping can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Smoking and vaping can cause a variety of health problems in addition to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory issues. These include poor circulation, reduced fertility, premature aging, and dental problems.
Other Problems With Smoking and Vaping
In addition to the numerous health risks associated with smoking and vaping, they can also have other negative impacts. Some of the other potential issues include:
Smoking and vaping can be expensive. The cost of cigarettes and other tobacco products, as well as the medical bills from related health problems, can add up over time. Vaping can also be expensive, especially if you use e-cigarettes frequently or purchase disposable cartridges.
Smoking and vaping can also have negative impacts on the environment. Cigarette litter is a significant problem, as discarded cigarette filters can take years to decompose and release harmful chemicals into the soil and water. Vaping can also contribute to pollution, as the production and disposal of e-cigarettes and their batteries can generate waste and release harmful chemicals.
In many places, smoking and vaping are not socially acceptable, and those who smoke or vape may be stigmatized or ostracized, leading to feelings of shame and isolation and may make it harder to quit.
Be aware of additional risks and impacts when considering whether to smoke or vape. Quitting smoking and vaping can improve your health and save money and reduce your environmental impact.
How to Quit
Quitting smoking and vaping can be challenging, but it is possible with the right strategies and support. Here are some tips for quitting these habits:
Make a Plan
Decide on a quit date and plan to manage and avoid triggers that might make you want to smoke or vape.
Consider joining a support group, speaking with a counselor or therapist, or enlisting the help of friends and family to support you. There are also many online support groups available.
Use Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, such as patches, gum, or lozenges, can help to manage withdrawal symptoms. These products are available over the counter and can be an effective tool to help you quit smoking or vaping.
There are several medications available that can help you quit smoking or vaping. These include prescription medications such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and over-the-counter options such as polacrilex (Nicorette).
Find Healthy Ways to Cope
Smoking and vaping are often coping mechanisms for stress. Finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercising, meditating, or talking to a friend or therapist, can help to reduce your urge to smoke or vape.
To quit smoking or vaping, plan, get support, use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or medications, and find healthy ways to cope with stress. Set a quit date, manage triggers, and consider joining a support group or speaking with a counselor. NRT products and medications can help manage withdrawal symptoms. Find healthy ways to cope with stress to reduce the urge to smoke or vape.
In conclusion, smoking and vaping are dangerous habits that can seriously affect your health. They cause various health problems, including cancer, heart disease, lung disease, and other health issues like poor blood circulation and reduced fertility. In addition to the health risks, smoking and vaping can also be expensive and have negative environmental impacts.
Despite the risks, many people continue to smoke and vape. It is never too late to quit If you currently smoke or vape. Many resources are available to help, including nicotine replacement therapy, medications, counseling, and support groups. Quitting smoking and vaping is not easy, but the health and well-being benefits are well worth the effort. By quitting, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing tobacco-related health problems and improve your quality of life.
- Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking – CDC
- Tobacco - Risk Factors - National Cancer Institute
- Health Problems Caused by Secondhand Smoke – CDC
- Heart Disease and Stroke | Smoking and Tobacco Use – CDC
- Smoking and COPD – CDC
- Smoking and Acute Respiratory Infections – The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine
- E-cigarette, or Vaping Product, Use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI) – Yale Medicine