Vaping creates 'mental fog' in kids and adults

  • Vaping interferes with cognitive functions of the brain in both adults and children
  • The earlier children start vaping, the higher their chances of concentration problems
  • Vaping should, therefore, not be considered a safe alternative to tobacco smoking

Adults and kids who vape are more likely to experience concentration problems, according to two new studies.

The studies, published in Tobacco Induced Diseases and Plos One, analysed data from over 18 000 middle and high school student responses to the National Youth Tobacco Survey, and more than 886 000 US adults who took part in the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey.

The research reports by the University of Rochester Medical Center in the US found that there are links between vaping and mental fog in both adults and kids.

The impact of smoking on children's brains 

The studies revealed that people who vape, no matter their age, reported having difficulties concentrating, remembering and making decisions, compared to their non-vaping, non-smoking peers.

The findings of the study that looked into learners show that kids who started vaping at an early age – between eight and 13 years – reported having difficulty focusing, remembering and decision making compared to those who started vaping at 14 years and older.

“With the recent rise in teen vaping, this is very concerning and suggests that we need to intervene even earlier. Prevention programmes that start in middle or high school might actually be too late,” says Prof Dongmei Li, who led the team behind the surveys.

How vaping affects adult brain function

The adult study found that people who vape had significantly higher reports of reduced cognitive function compared to those who have never vaped. 

The research also revealed that smokers’ exposure to nicotine could impair their attention later in life.

When compared to those who never smoked, smokers and ex-smokers reported significantly higher cognitive problems.

The findings also show that, like smoking, vaping is associated with subjective cognitive complaints in US adults.

These results show that vaping has potential cognitive health effects in adults.

“Our studies add to growing evidence that vaping should not be considered a safe alternative to tobacco smoking,” said study author Li in a press release.

READ | This spider's bite spreads antibiotic-resistant bacteria

READ | New study offers insight into how you can 'declutter' your mind

Image credit: Nathan Salt, Pexels

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.