Vaping Epidemic Is More Than Just Hot Air

For a brief moment it seemed that vaping was a fad destined to die. When electronic cigarettes -- commonly known as "vapes" due to the nicotine vapor they emit – first hit the scene, they spawned derision and mockery because of their fruity flavors and nerdiness. Even today, vaping sits at a steady 76 percent negative sentiments on social media over the last month. Despite this, there's one group for whom vaping has become an epidemic, and that's American high school students.

According to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey, over 5 million high school students said they had used e-cigarettes in the previous 30 days, with almost 1 million vaping daily. The only bright spot is a significant drop in cigarette use among high schoolers, down to 5.8% in 2019 from over 15% in 2011. However, the drop in cigarette use among high schoolers is far from a zero sum game. Vaping among high schoolers skyrocketed from a very low single digit percentage in 2011 to 27.5% of high schoolers in 2019.

According to CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, many teens believe the vapor is produced by water. Unfortunately, most vaping liquids also contain some nicotine, and a study by Columbia University also found traces of chromium, nickel, zinc and lead.