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Why Is Vaping So Popular?

Why is vaping popular, and is it a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes?

TEACHERS: Get your students in the discussion on KQED Learn, a safe place for middle and high school students to investigate controversial topics and share their voices.

Smoking may be at near-record lows, but vaping remains popular. Among high school seniors, nearly than 1 in 3 admitted to using some type of vaping product. Why is vaping popular, and is it a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes?

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**What is vaping?
Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. The term is used because e-cigarettes do not produce tobacco smoke, and instead produce a vapor that consists of fine particles.

**Is vaping addictive?
It depends. Much of the e-liquid that is sold for use with e-cigarettes contains nicotine, which is compound responsible for creating addiction. However, e-cigarettes can be used with other liquids, like vegetable glycerin, that do not contain nicotine.

**Is vaping healthier than smoking?
Vaping is a somewhat new area of research, so there is not a definitive answer. It does appear substituting e-cigarettes for traditional cigarettes in people who already smoke reduces exposure to many toxins. However, some studies have shown that vaping can still expose the user to some of the same toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke.

E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults: A Report of the Surgeon General

Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes

Adolescent Exposure to Toxic Volatile Organic Chemicals From E-Cigarettes

National Institute on Drug Abuse 2017 Teen Drug Use Survey

E-Cigarettes’ Risks and Benefits: Highlights From the Report to the F.D.A.

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KQED, an NPR and PBS affiliate in San Francisco, CA, serves Northern California and beyond with a public-supported alternative to commercial TV, Radio, and web media. Funding for Above the Noise is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Silver Giving Foundation, Stuart Foundation, and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.