Full disclosure: I vape. Peer pressure is a devil to deal with and with everybody around me smoking at university, I started smoking socially which was both expensive and obviously unhealthy. I felt that if I was going to start a sordid relationship with nicotine, I’d choose the cheaper, not-obviously-deadly option. 

That said, the controversy in the US is almost entirely exaggerated. I’m no chemistry student, but all the current data says that vaping with legally-tested products will not kill you, except for potential long-term effects which cannot yet be studied. It’s possible some of the recently reported deaths in the US were a result of black market products, made with banned ingredients. All legitimate liquids (in the UK at least) have to be approved in the same way any other consumer product has to be.

Those who’ve died might not have known the standards of the products they were using but the point remains: we need high consumer standards, especially with dangers like this. 

But what about the children? Teenagers cramming as much nicotine as possible into their bodies to be the coolest kid on the block? Teenagers have enough to deal with without using high nicotine products and becoming utterly addicted. The solution to this is the same with cigarettes, ban the advertising. If we’ve learned anything from prohibition and the war on drugs, making something illegal just increases deaths. Especially as nicotine use, while hardly healthy, is not something which usually kills on its own.  

But should us students be worried about vaping? In short, no. For one, it’s a lot easier to reduce the amount of nicotine you use, rather than quitting smoking altogether if you ever want to quit. I’ve quit once already because I couldn’t afford it, and frankly reducing how much coffee I drank gave me worse headaches.

Maybe, probably, vaping will cause you some harm. But so will binge-drinking. So will eating ready meals five days a week. We all have habits that are unhealthy, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do them. Don’t pretend it’s healthy, but don’t be ashamed of doing something you enjoy either. 

Image: Lindsay Fox

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