Vaping has become a serious health issue.

It’s at an all-time high among teens, and the U.S. Surgeon General has even called it an epidemic. What’s helping fuel interest in e-cigarettes? A lot of misinformation. Many people think that since they don’t burn tobacco, they’re safe. That’s far from the truth.

One study showed teens who used them had up to three times the amount of five known or suspected carcinogens in their bodies than teens who’ve never vaped.

People who’ve vaped—or JUULed as it’s also called—have gotten sick with inflamed lungs, a chronic cough, wheezing, trouble breathing, and even bloody mouths and throats that just won’t heal. Research also suggests teens who vape may be at risk for getting addicted to traditional cigarettes.

How Vaping Works

E-cigarettes have a battery, a metal heating element and a reservoir of liquid called “e-juice.” The heating element converts the liquid into a vapor, which the smoker inhales.

The liquid usually has nicotine in it—a chemical in regular cigarettes—and that gets dumped into our bodies. The liquid can also be made from chemical flavorings and a solvent like glycerol or propylene glycol. Solvents are approved food additives, but when they’re heated they can change into other chemical compounds like volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, many of which can harm our bodies.

Vaping and the Brain

Vaping can change your brain. That’s because of nicotine, a highly addictive chemical found in large amounts in regular cigarettes and also present in e-cigarettes.

Nicotine can change brain chemistry. That’s especially worrisome when it comes to kids since our brains are still developing into our mid- to late twenties. Nicotine also makes it harder to remember things and to pay attention.

Here’s something that might surprise you: one JUUL pod contains about the same amount of nicotine as 20 cigarettes, or one pack.

Vaping and the Lungs

Cotton candy, vanilla, caramel. E-cigarettes come in a lot of flavors, but manufacturers aren’t infusing real vanilla beans into their products. They use chemicals to get those flavors.

Diacetyl is one of the chemicals used and studies show can be toxic when you breathe it in. It’s been linked to serious lung diseases like popcorn lung.

Popcorn lung happens when the smallest airways in your lungs, or bronchioles, get damaged. How? Diacetyl irritates and inflames lung tissue. Airways then scar and narrow, making it hard to breathe. It’s called popcorn lung because doctors first diagnosed it in popcorn factory workers who breathed in diacetyl at work.

People with popcorn lung have a dry cough, wheeze, have a hard time breathing (especially when they’re active), might breathe too fast, and they’re exhausted.

More Risk For Cancer and Heart Attacks

E-cigarettes can also have heavy metals in them like nickel, tin or lead. Being exposed to these over time can damage your organs and make it more likely for you to get cancer.

Researchers have also found that heavy e-cigarette users have higher levels of a hormone called adrenaline in their heart. That’s a major risk factor for heart disease.

And, there’s evidence e-cigarettes mess with your immunity, or how your body fights off germs. Smokers might find themselves coming down with more and more colds, viruses and even a nasty, long bout of the flu that keeps them out of school or work for days.

Talking to Kids About Vaping

Education is the key to prevention. There are plenty of online resources to turn to when it comes to educating kids about the dangers of vaping and JUULing.

Drug Prevention Resources offers free, downloadable tools and tips about substance use, like “What You Need to Know And How to Talk With Your Kids About Vaping.”

In person, interactive educational events also go a long way towards prevention. At Medical Inflatables, we offer customizable drug education programs using our oversized, inflatable organs, lessons from our team of medical experts, and games that engage children, driving the message home.

About Us

Medical Inflatable™ Exhibits, Inc. provides large-scale, interactive, educational models of the human anatomy to help teach people about the risks, symptoms, nature, and causes of various diseases. The MEGA Lungs® is one in a series of large-than-life, walk-through displays that includes the MEGA Brain®, MEGA Heart® and MEGA Body®, which are all available to rent for medical and related events.

For more information about Medical Inflatable Exhibits, go to You can also visit us on Facebook at, and follow us on Twitter at @megainflatables.