When e-cigarettes first appeared on store shelves a few years back, they were marketed as a sleek, discreet technology that could help adult smokers kick a potentially deadly habit.
Flash-forward to 2018, the year the Juul vape device took over three-quarters of the US e-cigarette market. Instead of catering to adult smokers, the e-cigarette industry appeared to overwhelmingly target nonsmoking youth.
Maciej Goniewicz, one of the leading e-cigarette researchers based at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York, has watched the shift unfold up close: The volunteers who come forward for his e-cigarette studies seem to be getting younger.
“[These are] people who were breathing pure air for a long time and have never smoked tobacco cigarettes, who now have started using e-cigarettes,” Goniewicz said.
He and other researchers around the world are now scrambling to figure out what impact this new habit might have on developing bodies and brains in the long term. And they’re finding that e-cigarettes may be more dangerous than we’ve appreciated, especially for hearts, lungs, and brains. There’s also a growing body of research suggesting that vaping can lead to smoking.
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