What is the Meaning of ‘Vape’? Everything You Need to Know

What is the Meaning of 'Vape'

The term ‘vape’ has become increasingly common in recent years, but what exactly does it mean? Broadly speaking, vaping refers to the act of inhaling vapor produced by heating up a vaping liquid, oil, or wax. The vapor is often flavored and can contain nicotine, cannabis extracts, or no active ingredients at all.

Vaping provides an alternative to smoking traditional combustible cigarettes or tobacco products. It involves heating a liquid at a lower temperature compared to burning, which produces an inhalable aerosol. The practice has gained popularity due to perceived health benefits over traditional smoking methods.

This article will explore the meaning and usage of the term ‘vape’ in detail, looking at:

  1. The origin and etymology behind the word vape
  2. Products and methods associated with vaping
  3. The composition of vaping liquids and devices
  4. Reasons for the rise in vaping
  5. Health impacts and risks compared to smoking
  6. Legality, regulations, and controversies surrounding vaping

By the end, you should have a thorough understanding of what people refer to when they say ‘vaping’ or ‘to vape’.

The Origin and Meaning of ‘Vape’

The word ‘vape’ first emerged in the 1980s and is believed to be an abbreviation of the word ‘vaporizer’. Vaporizers were developed as a medical device to heat cannabis or tobacco just enough to release active compounds without burning the material. This allowed patients to inhale the therapeutic vapors while avoiding the harmful byproducts of combustion.

The earliest known recorded usage of the word ‘vape’ is in a 1983 New York Times article titled “Now, A Vaporizer You Can Smoke” about early cannabis and tobacco vaporizers entering public awareness. The word saw increasing use throughout the 1990s and 2000s as more consumer-friendly vaporizers were commercialized.

By 2010, vaping had entered the Oxford English Dictionary defined as:

“To inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.”

So in essence, to ‘vape’ simply refers to the act of inhaling vapor through the mouth into the lungs. The vapor may contain nicotine, marijuana, flavorings, or nothing at all. The key factor that distinguishes vaping from smoking is that no combustion occurs when vaping.

Vaping Products, Methods and Devices

There are a variety of products and devices associated with vaping. The most common types of vaping devices include:

Vape Pens

  • Compact, cylindrical vapes
  • All-in-one design with built-in battery, heating element, and refillable reservoirs
  • Popular for vaping nicotine e-liquids or cannabis oils

Pod Vapes

  • Small, lightweight devices that use pre-filled disposable pods
  • Simple to use with minimal settings to adjust
  • Allow easy switching between flavors

Mods/Advanced Personal Vaporizers

  • Larger, more customizable devices
  • Separate batteries, tanks, coils allow for modifications
  • High wattage output provides vapor production preferred by some

Dry Herb Vaporizers

  • Designed specifically for cannabis flower or tobacco
  • Feature heating chambers and precise temperature control
  • Release active compounds without combustion of material

In terms of methods, vaping can refer to:

  • Inhaling from a vaporizer, vape pen, or e-cigarette
  • Using disposable pre-filled cartridges or pods
  • ‘Dripping’ – applying drops of e-liquid directly onto an atomizer
  • Sub ohm vaping – using atomizers under 1 ohm resistance with higher power

What’s in Vape Liquids and E-Juices?

Vape juices, oils and e-liquids can contain various components including:

Solvents: The base makes up 50-90% of the solution and acts as a carrier for flavorings and nicotine. Common solvents include:

  • Propylene glycol (PG) – a petroleum byproduct, provides a ‘throat hit’
  • Vegetable glycerin (VG) – made from plant oils, creates more vapor

Nicotine: Many e-liquids contain nicotine, usually around 0-36 mg/mL. This provides a stimulant effect for ex-smokers.

Flavorings: Food-grade flavorings are commonly added, from vanilla and menthol to more exotic options.

Water: Used to dilute and adjust thickness of the propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin base.

Additional Ingredients: May include additives for smoothness, sweetness, pH adjustment, or nicotine absorption.

Ingredient Role
Propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin Solvent/base
Nicotine Stimulant, provides ‘throat hit’
Flavorings Adds taste
Water Dilutes and thins the vapor

Vape liquids may also contain THC, CBD, or other cannabis extracts instead of or in addition to nicotine. The solventbase carries these active compounds into an inhalable vapor.

The Rise of Vaping – Reasons For Its Popularity

Several interrelated factors have caused vaping to explode in popularity, especially among youth, including:

  • Perceived as safer than smoking – Lack of combustion presents lower health risk compared to cigarettes in some studies. Vaping viewed as ‘harm reduction’ for smokers.
  • Social/recreational activity – Flavors, vapor clouds, and technology provide enjoyment. Vape culture promotes vaping as appealing lifestyle.
  • Nicotine delivery – Provides a legal way to ingest stimulating nicotine, especially for non-smokers.
  • Cannabis and THC use – Allows discreet consumption of cannabis extracts and oils.
  • Marketing and availability – Vapes widely available in stores, online ads, and influencer promotion. Marketed as a safer, healthier alternative to smoking.
  • Stealth/convenience – Allows nicotine ingestion in public places where smoking banned. Easier to hide from authority figures.
  • Peer influence – Trendiness among youth who perceive vaping as a social norm. Friends vaping increases individual likelihood.
Reason Details
Perceived reduced harm Seen as safer than cigarettes due to lack of combustion
Social/recreational appeal Enjoyable due to flavors, vapor tricks, and vape culture
Nicotine delivery Legal way to get a nicotine fix, especially for nonsmokers
Cannabis/THC use Allows discreet cannabis oil consumption
Marketing and availability Heavily marketed as healthier choice
Stealth and convenience Easy nicotine ingestion where smoking is banned
Peer influence Trendiness among youth who vape socially

These factors have combined to make vaping a multi-billion dollar industry and cultural phenomenon. However, unknown health effects, nicotine addiction risks, and appeal to youth have made it highly controversial.

Health Effects and Risks of Vaping

Many people perceive vaping as safer than smoking. While it avoids many toxic byproducts of combustion, research on its long-term health impacts is still emerging:

Compared to smoking:

  • Reduced carcinogens – Vaping lacks many cancer-causing agents created when burning tobacco and paper. This greatly reduces cancer and lung disease risks.
  • Less lung irritation – No smoke inhalation means less irritation and inflammation of the airways. Studies show at least short term improvements in smokers who switch.
  • Unknown toxicity of flavorings – Hundreds of different e-liquid flavorings exist, many untested for safety via inhalation. Some may have harmful effects.
  • Addictiveness – High nicotine concentrations may lead to dependence in some users, especially youth. Difficult to quit for those addicted.
  • Other health risks – Some studies link vaping to increased cardiovascular disease, respiratory issues, and seizures, but more research needed.

Compared to not smoking/vaping at all:

  • Nicotine effects – Nicotine is highly addictive and affects teenage brain development. Risk of addiction higher for non-smokers who start vaping.
  • Aerosol inhalation – Long term effects of inhaling PG/VG aerosol deeply into lungs remains unknown.
  • Heavy metal exposure – Potential exposure to metals from heating elements and particles within vape aerosol.
  • Acute injuries – Rare but severe lung injuries and burns associated with modifications, misuse of devices, and unregulated products.

So while vaping is likely to be less harmful than traditional smoking in some respects, it cannot be considered completely harmless or healthy, especially for youth non-smokers. Ongoing research is still required to fully determine long-term effects.

Vaping Regulations and Controversies

Vaping has become an increasingly controversial public health issue due to its rising popularity among youth and unknown long-term effects. This has led to debates over regulation:

  • Minimum age – Legal age to purchase nicotine vapes federally raised from 18 to 21 in December 2019. Some advocate it should be raised further to 25 when the brain is fully developed.
  • Advertising restrictions – Calls to restrict youth-targeted advertising, influencer promotion, and candy-like flavoring that appeals to teenagers. Similar to existing tobacco advertising limits.
  • Public vaping bans – Vaping banned in many public spaces over concerns about involuntary exposure and re-normalizing smoking behaviors. Some argue this encourages covert teen use.
  • Product standards – Lack of manufacturing and testing standards led to serious lung disease outbreaks when additives like vitamin E acetate were introduced into illicit market vapes. Regulation could ensure safety.
  • Taxation – Proposals for substantial e-cigarette taxes to deter youth uptake and fund prevention and treatment. Tobacco taxes reduced cigarette use.
Year Regulation
2019 Federal minimum age raised to 21
2022 FDA bans fruit/candy nicotine flavors beyond tobacco and menthol
2023 Bills introduced to ban online sales and advertise limits

Ongoing debates weigh potential benefits of vaping for adult smokers against risks of youth uptake. With teen vaping at epidemic levels according to surveys, regulators continue to explore ways to curb use and avoid creating a new generation addicted to nicotine.

Frequently Asked Questions about Vaping

Q: Is vaping safer than smoking cigarettes?

A: Most evidence suggests that vaping poses less risk than smoking combustible tobacco cigarettes. Avoiding burned chemicals appears to lower the incidence of lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases in those who switch completely from smoking to vaping. However, vaping still exposes users to potentially harmful chemicals that can cause health issues. More long-term research is needed.

Q: Can vaping help you quit smoking?

A: For some cigarette smokers, vaping offers a less harmful way to get nicotine without many toxic chemicals in tobacco smoke. This can help smokers quit eventually. However, research shows vaping alone is less effective for quitting than approved nicotine replacement products combined with counseling. Some who vape get dual addictions to vaping and smoking.

Q: Why do teens use e-cigarettes?

A: Vaping has appeal among youth for many reasons like the flavors, ability to do vapor tricks, trendiness, and discreet nicotine delivery. Teens are highly susceptible to peer influence and e-cig marketing. Most report initially trying it out of curiosity, often underestimating the risks of addiction.

Q: What are signs of nicotine addiction?

A: Signs of addiction include feeling like you need to vape, becoming irritable when you can’t vape, vaping daily, and failed attempts to cut back. Addiction is a risk if nicotine is being consumed regularly over an extended period, especially by teens whose brains are still developing.

Q: Should flavored nicotine vapes be banned?

A: Public health groups advocate banning flavors beyond tobacco and menthol in nicotine vapes. This could deter youth appeal without affecting adult smokers seeking alternatives. However, the vaping industry argues adults also enjoy flavors and bans could make some turn back to regular cigarettes.

In summary, ‘vaping’ refers to inhaling an aerosol vapor produced by heating up a liquid or oil. The practice has quickly grown around the world since early vape devices emerged in the 2000s. While potentially less harmful than smoking for adults, vaping poses concerns especially related to youth uptake. Ongoing research and likely regulation will further shape the definition and public perception of vaping in the years ahead.

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WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical. Only for adults. Anyone below the age of 21 is prohibited from buying e-cigarette.