Grand Futures: What is really in that vape pen? |

Grand Futures: What is really in that vape pen?

Lindsey Simbeye and Rachel Kandzierski/For Craig Press
A researcher holds vape pens in a lab. In Colorado there have been eight reported vaping related illnesses this year, with just over half becoming hospitalized and one that was fatal.
AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer

In the past few months there has been a lot of coverage in the news about e-cigarettes and other vaping devices due to the number of newly reported incidences of lung disease and death associated with vaping.

In Colorado there have been eight reported vaping related illnesses this year, with just over half becoming hospitalized and one that was fatal.

Nationally, the incident rate is closer to 530, with more being reported every week. We know that vaping is a growing problem, especially among youth, and as long as the industry continues to invest in deceptive advertising practices and the use of flavored vape liquids, the epidemic is likely to get worse before it gets better.

What can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones? Get informed!

It is imperative that we fully understanding the ingredients and their potentially harmful effects if we are going to change the perception of harm among our youth.

So, what is in a standard vaping device?

First, because these products are not yet fully regulated by the FDA, there is no such thing as standard. Products can vary widely by brand. In fact, various brands state 5%-8% strength, but the actual nicotine content can be two to three times that of a pack of cigarettes or another brand with the same packaging claim.

Among high levels of nicotine, vaping devices also contain an assortment of ingredients and chemicals which produce larger vape clouds and flavored vape juice. The most common ingredients are propylene glycol, a solvent that has been known to cause lung damage, glycerol, a byproduct of soap manufacturing, and, of course, nicotine, the widely known and highly addictive substance that can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, infertility, and respiratory illness, to name only a few.

Some products even contain heavy metals such as lead, tin, or nickel, which have long been known to cause adverse effects in the body.

The effects of vaping extend beyond yourself.

When you vape, the smoke can also affect those around you. Secondhand smoke from vaping products has also been shown to contain harmful chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, and isoprene, the latter of which is a solvent that is also the main compound found in rubber and known to be a carcinogen.

Young lungs are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of vaping products, since they are still developing, and yet, young people make up the largest portion of the population with steadily increasing numbers of vape users.

Vaping is a relatively new phenomenon that has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years. This is why it is so important to dispel the myth that vaping is a safe.

According to the 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, 40% of Moffat County High School students feel vaping is harmful, compared to 83% who think smoking cigarettes is harmful. Yet, most vape products contain the nicotine equivalent of one to three packs of cigarettes in a single pod of vape juice.

Vaping products have routinely been marketed as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes but this does not make them “safe.”

Because vaping is so new, there is relatively little research as to the long-term effects on the body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people avoid tobacco and nicotine in general, but as their investigation into vaping related deaths continues they have since updated this warning to include e-cigarettes and other vaping products.

A full list of ingredients often found in vape juices and other helpful resources can be found at

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