Is Vaping Bad for You?
by Gabriella Kroska - March 19, 2019
Vaping has been gaining popularity with young people in our culture over the last several years. What is it, and is it an appropriate practice for young people striving to follow God?
Vaping is widely promoted as a tool to help those struggling to quit smoking. However, some vaping companies are now using marketing tactics targeting young people, despite the fact that vaping devices and liquids are illegal for anyone under 21 to purchase.
A recent study by the University of Pittsburgh found that young people who start vaping are four times more likely to begin smoking within a year and a half than their peers who don’t vape.
What do young people striving to live God’s way need to know about vaping?
What is vaping?
Vaping is the act of inhaling a vapor produced by an e-cigarette, a JUUL or a similar device, such as vape pens or advanced personal vaporizers (“mods”). Many assume that these devices create a harmless water vapor (instead of smoke), making them a good alternative to cigarettes. But that is a myth. They actually produce an aerosol that consists of fine particles suspended in water vapor, and they are not harmless.
Does vaping have health risks?
Most vaping liquids include the chemical nicotine—widely known to be a highly addictive substance. A single cartridge of JUUL vaping juice contains about 200 puffs, roughly the equivalent to a whole pack of cigarettes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nicotine can harm the areas of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control. These areas continue to develop until about the age of 25. Teen and young adult brains learn faster than those of older adults—and addiction is a form of learning. Because of the powerful learning capacity of younger brains, they are more vulnerable to becoming addicted to substances like nicotine, and nicotine use can prime the brain to be susceptible to other addictions later in life.
If you’re considering vaping, it would be wise to ask yourself, “Is the temporary pleasure of vaping worth the risks of damaging my brain now and setting myself up for potentially worse addictions later?” For more information on addiction, see our series “Freedom From Addiction.”
Is vaping without nicotine safe?
A common draw of vaping is the many liquid options, including different flavorings and varieties that don’t include nicotine. But though there are some without nicotine, they still contain many of the same chemicals found in traditional cigarettes. The inflammation and irritation caused by these chemicals can contribute to chronic diseases like bronchitis, emphysema and heart disease.
Additionally, diacetyl—a common ingredient in the flavorings for vaping liquids—is linked to “popcorn lung”—a condition that causes scarring and blockage in the smallest airways of the lungs.
Advocates of vaping will point out that there aren’t any long-term studies proving that vaping can cause lung cancer. While this is true, it’s also important to keep in mind that there aren’t any long-term studies proving vaping isn’t dangerous. E-cigarettes were introduced in 2007 and have grown in popularity in the following years, so the long-term effects of vaping will not be realized fully for a number of years.
But consider that smoking cigarettes was first promoted as a healthy habit for stress relief and relaxation before researchers realized the damage smoking could cause to the human body! By the time the dangers were realized, many people were already hooked and suffered the consequences.
Yet, despite the consequences being so widely known, people still smoke today. That’s the power of addiction.
Is vaping a sin?
While the Bible doesn’t speak directly about vaping, there are biblical principles we should consider.
- We shouldn’t do things because “everyone else” is doing it. We were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), and God’s people are called to “be holy” (1 Peter 1:16). To be “holy” means to be set apart by God for a purpose. Just because vaping is popular, doesn’t mean Christians—people who are set apart—should do it. If you’re considering vaping, one important question to ask yourself is, “Why does this appeal to me?” You might be surprised! If your motivation is to fit in with friends who are vaping, consider that we are called to “come out” from the world (2 Corinthians 6:17; see also James 4:4)—not to be just like everyone else.
- God carefully designed our bodies and expects us to take care of them. The apostle Paul wrote, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit … and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our bodies belong to God, so we should take care of them. Keeping this in mind, we should ask ourselves, “Does it glorify God to intentionally inhale something that harms my body?” Would Jesus Christ recreationally inhale chemicals into His lungs if He were walking the earth today?
- Addiction is a form of slavery. When we become addicted to something, we become the slaves of that thing or substance. “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey?” (Romans 6:16). Through Jesus Christ, we can be freed from the sinful habits that keep us in bondage (verses 17-18). We should never surrender control of our body to any addiction!
Instead of being enslaved to the chemical substances found in e-cigarettes, we should seek to serve God and do things that promote holiness and purity in our lives (verse 22).
Research shows that vaping is not harmless, but that it poses real risks to young people—and, in fact, to all people. We should take care of and glorify God with our bodies.
If you’re not sure how to say no to vaping or other negative influences, check out our article “Saying No.”