Smoking e-cigarettes could have potentially deleterious effects on a person’s mental health, according to a JAMA Network Open study that solidified a link between vaping and self-reported clinical depression.
E-cigarettes have been commercially available for a decade or so now, but they weren’t widely popularized until recent years, when companies like e-cig giant Juul Labs started marketing their products directly to teens and pre-teens. In an address dated Dec. 18, 2018, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams deemed youth vaping a national epidemic and singled out Juul for enjoying a 600% surge in sales between 2016 and 2017. By 2018, one in five high-schoolers and one in 20 middle-schoolers were admitting to using vaping products.
Juul shuttered its social media last winter and vowed to stop selling most of its minor-friendly flavored pods—each of which contains just about as much nicotine as a 20-pack of cigarettes—in stores, but it wasn’t the only active e-cig distributor at the time. Use persisted, and by the end of 2019 U.S. officials were looking into more than 2,000 cases of severe lung illness (EVALI) and nearly 40 deaths brought on by vaping.
Some cases of EVALI have been attributed to the possible presence of Vitamin E acetate in vaping products, but first author Olufunmilayo H. Obisesan, MD, MPH, and colleagues pointed out that many e-cigarettes also contain other toxicities like arsenic, lead and propylene glycol. They’re marketed as an approach to smoking cessation, but their contents are largely unrelated.