"I bought them for the taste, now I buy them for the nicotine": the addictive charm of vaping (2023)

With flavors ranging from strawberry ice cream and cola to pink lemonade and blueberries, disposable vaporizers have taken the nicotine industry by storm, becoming the latest addition in the hand of many young people.

With an average retail price of €7 to €9 and a colorful, enticing look, disposable vaporizers are designed to appeal to young people, luring them in with an appetizing array of flavours. And once people start vaping, the addictive quality of nicotine makes many of them continue the habit or switch to smoking cigarettes

According to the Health Research Board's 2019-2020 Drugs and Alcohol Survey data, the most current available, e-cigarette use is about twice as common as tobacco smoking among the population. Almost every fifth survey respondent was a current e-cigarette user.

And when it comes to our European peers, one EU-wide study shows that 15-24 year olds in Ireland are way ahead of the competition when it comes to trying vaping. A total of 29% of Irish people surveyed say they have tried a vaporizer, compared to the EU figure of 14%.

Of those who responded positively to vaping, 73% of people in Ireland were smokers, compared to figures in the EU where 36% of respondents were smokers.

So with vending machines brandishing shiny disposable vaporizers instead of the ones that previously sold cigarettes, it seems that any steps taken to reduce smoking's impact on our nation have been undone by a new vice in town.

But are they as harmless as manufacturers want users to believe?

Impact on health

According to a recent HSE study, the risks and negative health effects of vaping include nicotine addiction, injuries from faulty e-cigarette batteries, poisoning and exposure to toxins, and changes to the way the heart, lungs and organs normally work.

Irish Heart Foundation spokesman Mark Murphy said the research was "deeply concerning as it has seen an increase in current cigarette smoking associated with the growing use of e-cigarettes".

"Smoking is extremely harmful to health, damaging almost every organ in the body," he said.

“Unfortunately, the younger you are when you start smoking, the more likely you are to smoke longer and die prematurely from smoking. As such, it is extremely important that we do everything we can to reduce teen smoking rates."

A study published in the Harvard Gazette last September revealed that chronic e-cigarette use can cause "slight airway obstruction and asthma-like symptoms."

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The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is difficult to generalize the risks of e-cigarettes compared to conventional cigarettes because there are so many different products on the market and their impact can depend on frequency of use and other factors. But some of the known effects of e-cigarettes are:

  • E-cigarette emissions typically contain nicotine and other toxic substances that are harmful to users and exposed non-users;
  • They increase the risk of lung and heart disease;
  • Exposure of children and adolescents to nicotine can have long-term detrimental effects on brain development;
  • Nicotine is highly addictive;
  • There is growing evidence that children who have never smoked but smoke are at least twice as likely to start smoking later in life.

WHO says these products are bad for health, but says it's too early to give a clear answer about themlong-term health impact.

Environmental waste

The problem concerns not only the health of individual users, but also the environment. Vaporization, especially disposable vaporizers, designed for an average of 200-400 puffs compared to 20 cigarettes, has contributed tothe wider problem of littering the streets.

According to a recent study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, disposable vaporizers consist of "not one but three forms of waste."

Many e-cigarettes are capsule-based devices made from disposable plastic cartridges, some of which are largely non-biodegradable andpoorly recyclable.

Similarly, disposable vaporizers contain electronic waste. These cheap devices are designed to last for a short time and are therefore commonly thrown away on the streets, much like cigarette butts.

However, one of the key components of the vaporizer, the lithium-ion batteries, pose a serious fire hazard if not disposed of properly, and are very difficult to recycle.

Introducing them to the young

Cork mother-of-three Caroline Daly, whose teenage son regularly vapes, believes it is "a cynical way for the tobacco industry to recruit new customers".

"They add litter in the streets and parks because many young people don't want to take it home to throw it in the bin," she added. "They are pocket money and sold at pocket prices, so young people can have them at school and out and about."

He believes the sweet flavors used are a clever marketing ploy by an industry grabbing onto straws to engage a younger audience.

“Manufacturers are willing to pay for research to find out what colors and flavors appeal to young people so they can use them to rebuild a failing industry. They know exactly who will like the flavors of cherry bubblegum and cotton candy.”

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The country's tobacco industry came to a halt after the introduction of the 2004 smoking ban, led by the then Minister of Health, Micheál Martin. There was pressure to develop new products to keep the new generation hooked and keep their profits healthy.

Vape allowed smokers to discreetly enjoy nicotine in public.

"The excellent ban on smoking in enclosed public places and other health campaigns have influenced the tobacco industry, which is why they sell vaporizers at pocket prices," says Caroline. He believes that young people ignore the negative health consequences of vaping, believing that it does not affect them at such a young age.

“Teenagers just don't want to think too much about how it could have negative consequences for them in 20 or 30 years.

“The concept doesn't seem real to someone who is only 15 years old. And if you are in good health despite your young age, you may not notice any ill effects at first, so you may fool yourself into thinking you are invincible. "

According to the Oireachtas report, e-cigarettes are now subject to less restrictions as they are considered consumer products in Ireland. However, the government has promised to raise taxes and improve regulation of e-cigarettes.

Some of the proposed changes include a targeted tax regime to specifically discourage vaping and e-cigarettes, and banning the sale of nicotine inhalation products to anyone under 18.

"I bought them for the taste, now I buy them for the nicotine": the addictive charm of vaping (1)

They also aim to limit the types of retailers that can sell these products by creating a licensing system for nicotine items.

In addition, the government hopes to put an end to the advertising of nicotine inhaled products, including e-cigarettes, around schools, on public transport and in cinemas, which are frequented by young people.

The Irish Examiner understands that some stores have taken advantage of the legal "gray area" that exists around the sale of vapes.

"I went to one store on a Wednesday lunchtime to look around and there was a steady stream of very young looking teenagers in uniform buying e-cigarettes," Caroline said.

"Another vaporizer shop signed up wishing a happy 16th birthday to their 'customer of the month'," she added.


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One young vaper, a 22-year-old college student whose night-out vaping habit turned into a full-blown addiction, blamed the stress of her senior year.

"It wasn't until I went back to college after the summer that I started picking up a bit more [vape], buying a few more a week. At this point, college became quite stressful, so I just found it convenient because it doesn't smell, it's cheap, it fits in the palm of your hand - it fits in your pocket."

A sports fanatic recalls feeling short of breath after strenuous workouts and is concerned that this shortness of breath may get worse when using a vaporizer.

"If it's something like smoking cigarettes, I can only assume the worst."

The Connacht native says she considers it "unfortunate" that vaporizers have been introduced.

What was initially seen as a "harmless piece of plastic" "is likely to affect a whole generation in the next 10-20 years, if not sooner," she said.

“I think for that reason they should be taken off the market and especially for teenagers the way they are sold. They smell good, have nice colors, and cost less than a tenner, he adds.

She regrets taking her first puff, saying it's a shame she's come this far as she uses a lot of disposable vaporizers a week.

She believes that, like her, many other vapers have been drawn to the appealing range of flavors.

"I don't think I would have started vaping if there weren't nice flavors on the market, or I wouldn't have picked it up as often as I have, but I think I've gotten to the point where it's not just about the flavor Now.

"I buy one every few days and it's probably the nicotine in it and the other chemicals that make me crave it."

Patrick Portley, 23, started smoking socially with friends at 13 before switching to e-cigarettes at 16.

Patrick describes his transition to vaping as being driven by convenience, describing the habit as easier and cheaper than regular cigarettes.

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"You can't really smoke in the pub, at home or at work, but you can smoke a cheeky e-cigarette anywhere."

A man from Limerick admits he is aware of the negative health consequences, noticing some physical symptoms after using a vaporizer for a while.

"If I didn't drink a lot of water or eat for a while, I would definitely notice a tendency to headaches and upset stomachs, same goes for a lot of my friends who also vape and have been like that since we all started."

The discreet nature of vaping - compared to the strong odor associated with cigarette use - is a point repeated by many,

Patrick lists this as one of the advantages, saying "The fact that you can pick up a cigarette on the bus, in a bar, at work in the bathroom, or just sit at home and watch TV, and you won't smell the place or need to shake off the ashes anywhere." .

And for just €25 for a reusable vaporizer that lasts a whole month, there's no doubt why so many choose a cost-effective vaporizer over a classic cigarette box.

"You can smoke a cigarette every 45 minutes and be satisfied, but with a vaporizer you can smoke continuously for an hour and still not quit," added Patrick.

However, he realizes that he is "trading one vice for another."

"I've been trying to quit smoking and honestly if you can avoid vaping at all costs you should.

"Go to a cold turkey for cigarettes or put on plasters. With a vaporizer, you trade one vice for another, and I'm twice as addicted to the vaporizer as I've ever been to pipes."

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Health experts warn that a whole generation of young people are at risk of vaping

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How addictive is nicotine vape? ›

3: Electronic cigarettes are just as addictive as traditional ones. Both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes contain nicotine, which research suggests may be as addictive as heroin and cocaine.

Which is worse cigarettes or vaping? ›

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , some experts still consider vaping less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but that doesn't mean vaping isn't harmful.

What are 5 dangers of vaping? ›

Risks / Benefits
  • Asthma. Vaping can make you more likely to get asthma and other lung conditions. ...
  • Lung scarring. ...
  • Organ damage. ...
  • EVALI (e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury). ...
  • Addiction. ...
  • Cigarette smoking. ...
  • Second-hand exposure. ...
  • Explosions.
Aug 22, 2022

How bad is vaping for lungs? ›

Breathing in the harmful chemicals from vaping products can cause irreversible (cannot be cured) lung damage, lung disease and, in some cases, death. Some chemicals in vaping products can also cause cardiovascular disease and biological changes that are associated with cancer development.

Is there a healthy vape? ›

The reality of any vaping device, whether marketed as a “healthy” option or not, is that they are unsafe to use. The lack of research combined with a lack of federal regulation means that there is simply no evidence suggesting “healthy vapes” offer any benefit or a healthy alternative to nicotine-based devices.

Is vape bad for your teeth? ›

Vaping has a direct effect on oral health.

Exposure to e-cigarette aerosol can lead to more bacteria in the mouth, which is associated with tooth decay, cavities, and gum diseases. It can also cause dry mouth, inflamed gums, and other issues.

How many puffs of a vape is equal to a cigarette? ›

You might also be wondering how many cigarettes are there in 3mg e liquid. Around 14 puffs would be equal to one cigarette and a 60 ml bottle of 3 mg e liquid would be equal to 15 cigarettes.

What are the benefits of vaping? ›

Benefits of vaping

Vaping can help some people quit smoking. Vaping is usually cheaper than smoking. Vaping is not harmless, but it is much less harmful than smoking. Vaping is less harmful to those around you than smoking, as there's no current evidence that second-hand vapour is dangerous to others.

What happens after you quit vaping? ›

Vaping nicotine can lead to a cycle of withdrawal that can be challenging to overcome. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person but commonly consist of mood swings, irritability, headaches, and even feelings of anxiety and depression.

How do I quit vaping? ›

Quitting vaping? Here are 5 tips for handling nicotine withdrawal
  1. Exercise. Physical activity is a reliable way to crush a craving, according to many experts and young people alike. ...
  2. Use a distraction. ...
  3. Lean on your support system. ...
  4. Find stress solutions. ...
  5. Celebrate your accomplishments.
Jan 10, 2023

Why do I feel sick after vaping? ›

Perhaps the most common reason you may feel sick after vaping is the nicotine itself. Most of us will be familiar with the concept of a “niccy rush”. It is a light-headedness that comes from taking in a big hit of nicotine either for the first time that day, or simply if we take a bigger puff than normal.

Does popcorn lung go away? ›

Can popcorn lung fix itself? The short answer to this is no. Bronchiolitis obliterans is irreversible. Once the damage happens, you can't fix it.

What causes popcorn lung? ›

Popcorn lung (bronchiolitis obliterans) is an uncommon type of lung disease, but it is not cancer. It's caused by a build-up of scar tissue in the lungs, which blocks the flow of air. A possible link has been suggested between the disease and a chemical called diacetyl.

Will my lungs heal if I quit vaping? ›

The Benefits of Quitting

Additionally, quitting vaping will improve your blood circulation and enable your lungs to begin healing. This will result in fewer coughing episodes and improved breathing ability during physical activity.

Is zero nicotine vape safe? ›

No nicotine disposable vapes are completely safe! In fact, it is safer than other disposables with nicotine. Since there is no nicotine in the vape, the one substance that made smokers addicted to smoking is absent in this vape.

How much vape is safer? ›

Although the precise long term risks of vaping nicotine have not yet been established they are certain to be only a tiny fraction of those from smoking, which kills prematurely up to 2 in 3 long-term users. Based on this information, the estimate that vaping is 95% safer than smoker is a very reasonable guide.

Is it possible to vape water? ›

Vaping water has its own specific, unique set of risks. Inhaling superheated, vaporized water can burn your mouth, your lips, your tongue, and even damage your throat. This could actually lead to problems speaking (scorched voice box) and in extreme cases, could burn your lungs or contribute to pneumonia. Yikes!

How many hits of a vape is healthy? ›

There is no exact number of puffs that are considered safe. It is recommended to be aware of your smoking habits to monitor if you are taking too much. Vapes may be less dangerous than traditional cigarettes; it is essential to know your limit. You can enjoy and have a great vaping experience while not overusing it.

How long does nicotine stay in your system? ›

Generally, nicotine will leaves your blood within 1 to 3 days after you stop using tobacco, and cotinine will be gone after 1 to 10 days. Neither nicotine nor cotinine will be detectable in your urine after 3 to 4 days of stopping tobacco products.

Does nicotine free vape give you a buzz? ›

In the absence of nicotine, there is no active ingredient in a short fill or a non-nicotine disposable vape that will give you a buzz. You will still feel a slight 'lightheaded' sensation from inhaling and exhaling vapour, even though this greatly contrasts with the effects of a nicotine kick.

Can dentists see if I vape? ›

What can dentists deduce after a dental check-up? A dentist can't tell if you're vaping or not, but they can tell that you're consuming nicotine, whether through traditional cigarettes or electronic cigarettes. Nicotine leaves yellow and brown stains on teeth after it mixes with our saliva flow.

Does vaping affect your lips? ›

Your gums will begin to recede and pull away from your teeth. Other vaping effects on your oral health include: Stomatitis – Inflammation of the mouth, including the inside of your cheeks, gums, tongue, lips and palate. Inflammation can cause canker or cold sores to develop.

How do you tell if your child is vaping? ›

Signs a person is vaping
  1. A sweet scent in the air. ...
  2. Unfamiliar pens and USB drives. ...
  3. Drinking more water. ...
  4. Nosebleeds. ...
  5. Smoker's cough or mouth sores. ...
  6. New batteries and chargers. ...
  7. Discarded vaping pods and devices.
Sep 16, 2022

Is 2% nicotine a lot in a vape? ›

Is 2% Vape a Lot of Nicotine? A 2% vape or 2%/20mg of nicotine in an e-liquid is considered high strength. A 2% nicotine concentration may be harsher on the throat and is recommended for heavy smokers who may smoke more than a pack of cigarettes a day.

Does 1 vape equal 50 cigarettes? ›

Second-hand exposure to harmful substances

You can become addicted to nicotine very quickly and find it difficult to stop vaping. The nicotine in 1 vape can equal 50 cigarettes. Depending on the size of the vape and nicotine strength, it can be much higher.

How many cigarettes is 6000 puffs? ›

A 1oz/30ml bottle of e-liquid contains about 600 drops (30 * 20 drops/ml) which would theoretically give you about 6000 puffs. Approximately 10 puffs is equivalent to 1 cigarette. Therefore, there are roughly 600 cigarettes per 30ml e-liquid container.

Can vaping help with anxiety? ›

Stress and anxiety can trigger vape cravings, and make it harder for you to quit for good. You may be tempted to reach for your vape when you have these feelings, but vaping is not an effective way to cope.

Does vaping give you energy? ›

Does vaping affect energy levels? Vaping without nicotine is unlikely to affect energy levels. However, if you are using nicotine in your vape you can expect minor changes. As mentioned above, nicotine is a mental stimulant and can also encourage the body to produce adrenaline.

What does vaping feel like? ›

How does it make you feel? When you vape, the nicotine in the vape is what gives you the buzz. This feeling comes from a release of adrenaline which stimulates the body and causes your blood pressure and heart rate to increase, making you breathe faster.

How long do vape withdrawals last? ›

These negative feelings peak within 1 week of quitting and may last 2 to 4 weeks (1).

Can I quit vaping cold turkey? ›

Research suggests that quitting cold turkey may be the most effective way to quit. If you go this route, be sure to throw away all vaping materials, including chargers, pods and juices. Another advantage of quitting cold turkey is you won't feel tempted to reach for “just one puff.”

Is it harder to quit vaping or smoking? ›

E-cigarettes are closely associated with tobacco cigarettes and for obvious reasons: Both are popular among teens, both contain highly addictive nicotine, and both can ruin health and potentially the brain development of adolescents. One big difference: It's harder to quit vaping than traditional cigarettes. Why?

What happens 24 hours after quitting vaping? ›

Most people should expect to experience some of the following vaping withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, anxiety or irritability, to start within about 24 hours of the last vape. It's important to be mentally prepared to accept vaping withdrawal symptoms and know they'll pass in a short time.

Does vaping make you depressed? ›

A study of more than 2,500 people ages 13-24 found that nicotine-only vapers, THC-only vapers and dual vapers (of nicotine and THC) were more likely to report anxiety symptoms, depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts when compared with their peers who did not use electronic cigarettes or vape THC.

Why do I feel dizzy after vaping? ›

Dehydration: Vaping can cause dry mouth and throat, which can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can cause lightheadedness and other symptoms such as dizziness and fatigue. Nicotine: If you are using an e-liquid with a high nicotine content, you may experience lightheadedness as a result of the nicotine.

Can vaping make you gain weight? ›

Putting it bluntly, no, vaping won't make you fat. E-liquid consists of both vegetable glycerine (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) ingredients, which both have approximately 4 calories per gram.

Why does my chest hurt after vaping? ›

People with vaping illness, also referred to as vaping-associated lung injury, have symptoms that can be mistaken for the flu. These can include shortness of breath, dry cough, chest pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and high levels of inflammatory markers in the blood.

Can I live with popcorn lung? ›

Popcorn lung is a rare condition that causes airway scarring due to inflammation and eventually lung damage. While treatments exist to limit and manage symptoms, currently there is no cure for popcorn lung, and it is considered life-threatening.

Can vaping cause night sweats? ›

Use the slider above to see the effects of vaping on a pair of clean lungs. Patients with vaping-associated lung injuries come to doctors complaining of dry cough, chest pain, and shortness of breath, as well as abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. They also often have fevers, body aches, and drenching night sweats.

Is honeycomb lung fatal? ›

Although most cases of honeycomb lung are seen in chronic lung disease, it can also occur in a minority of patients with acute interstitial pneumonia and diffuse alveolar damage [31, 32]. This disease is progressive by the day or week, and the result is often fatal.

What is lung butter? ›

Noun. lung butter (uncountable) (slang) Thick mucus that is coughed up.

How does vaping affect the heart? ›

Long-term use of electronic cigarettes, or vaping products, can significantly impair the function of the body's blood vessels, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease. Additionally, the use of both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes may cause an even greater risk than the use of either of these products alone.

Is one puff of nicotine addictive? ›

In sum, according to the "hooked on nicotine" line of research, adolescents can lose autonomy over their smoking after having smoked one puff in their lifetime and never having smoked again and can become mentally and physically addicted to nicotine even if they have never smoked a puff.

How long does vaping nicotine withdrawal last? ›

Nicotine withdrawal symptoms set in between 4 and 24 hours after a person last vaped. The symptoms peak around day three of abstinence and then gradually subside over the following three to four weeks.

How much nicotine per day is addictive? ›

Usually if you smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day, or have a cigarette in the first half hour after waking up, you have a nicotine addiction that is significant enough to give you some real trouble when quitting.

Can you vape and not get addicted? ›

Unlike with smoking, it is possible for you to use a vape device effectively without becoming an addict.

Why do I feel bad for vaping? ›

Perhaps the most common reason you may feel sick after vaping is the nicotine itself. Most of us will be familiar with the concept of a “niccy rush”. It is a light-headedness that comes from taking in a big hit of nicotine either for the first time that day, or simply if we take a bigger puff than normal.

Is one hit of a vape bad? ›

The lung damage he has seen in patients is the equivalent to someone smoking cigarettes for decades. "It literally can kill you the first time you try it," he says. He says the liquid chemicals are the culprit. When they are all flash heated at once, no one can predict what you are about to breathe in.

How do you flush nicotine out fast? ›

There are several things you can do to speed up this process:
  1. Drink water. When you drink more water, more nicotine is released from your body through urine.
  2. Exercise. This increases your body's metabolism rate, which may lead you to clear nicotine faster. ...
  3. Eat foods rich in antioxidants.
May 11, 2022

What happens to your body 24 hours after quitting vaping? ›

Most people should expect to experience some of the following vaping withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, anxiety or irritability, to start within about 24 hours of the last vape. It's important to be mentally prepared to accept vaping withdrawal symptoms and know they'll pass in a short time.


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