University of Sourthern California


Vaping and the Growing Public Health Crisis


Vaping uses battery-powered devices to turn nicotine, flavorings, and other chemicals into vapor for the user to inhale. Its popularity has grown as a way to bypass the “stigma” of smoking (no smoke or nicotine stains) – while the practice itself has been advertised as a “safer” option (no secondhand smoke).

Vaping is on the rise globally, jumping from 7 million users in 2011 to 41 million in 2018 and an estimated 55 million in 2021.1

Public Health Concerns Associated with Vaping

Several public health risks have been identified over the last few years as vaping has grown in popularity: 43% of high school students who started vaping high-nicotine cartridges had become frequent smokers in 6 months.2 As of 2019, over 2,500 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with lung injuries due to vaping. 54 cases resulted in death.3

Vaping-Related Illnesses

Vaping can cause respiratory symptoms such as coughing, breathing difficulties, nausea, chest pain, and chemical burns on lungs. In 94% of measured cases of vaping-related disease or death, vitamin E acetate was found to be present, but multiple chemicals could be contributing.4

Treatment of Vaping Illnesses

Vaping-related lung illness is most likely to affect young adults, but elderly users are also at risk for severe symptoms. 80% of those hospitalized from vaping were younger than 35, and 16% were younger than 18.5 Although elderly users are less likely to be admitted to a hospital, they are at the highest risk for readmission after hospital discharge.6

Issues like the popularity and associated dangers of vaping represent the problems public health officials are tasked with identifying and working to tackle. Learn more in the below infographic by the Online MPH degree program at the Keck School of Medicine of USC:

Infographic Sources: