Vaping is growing in popularity with those trying to quit or cut back on smoking, as well as with youth that is not always familiar with smoking but is usually interested in new tech novelties and wants to own trendy gadgets. Young fans spend much time mastering vaping tricks and then post photos or videos of their skills on social media.
The manufacturers use a marketing strategy that is based on the following statement: “Vaping is healthier than smoking.” Let’s see whether the scientists agree with that.
We should first mention that vaping is a new phenomenon. An e-cigarette was crafted in 2003. But the majority of people only recently became aware of the existence of the vaping device and vape liquid.
The research into the vaping’s health and social impacts is just starting to ramp up. And it is focused on three subjects.
The chemical ingredients of the vapor.
Everyone knows that inhaling burnt tobacco is extremely dangerous. Unlike smokers, vapers don’t need to light up tobacco or another herb. An electronic device heats an e-cig juice (learn more here) and creates vapor.
To find out the potential risks of vaping, scientists define the ingredients a person inhales while doing it. Here’re some of the most extensive studies:
- A new study funded by Cancer Research UK found out that smokers who had quit and used only vaporizers for an average of 16 months experienced the reduction of levels of carcinogens and other toxins.
- Another study sponsored by Tobacco Control compared the cancer risks of using electronic and traditional cigarettes. It turned out that vaping imposes users only to 1% of the cancer hazard tobacco does.
- The research conducted by European scientists revealed that vaporizing can adversely impact the main artery of the heart. 24 adult participants were monitored while vaping and while smoking a regular cigarette. A 30-minute vaping session had a similar effect on the stiffness of the aorta as a 5-minute smoking break.
- A recent study conducted at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that e-liquids contain propylene glycol (eyes and respiratory irritant) and vegetable glycerin (skin, eye, and respiratory irritant).
- In 2009, the FDA warned that e-liquid may contain diethylene glycol.
- Several studies detected such metals as chromium, manganese, and nickel that may cause harm in case of the chronic use.
Vaping is not completely harmless. But scientists agree that it is safer than consuming tobacco. The long-term effects of vaping are unknown. And science might need decades to clarify this question.
The effectiveness of vaping as a quit method.
Despite the recent findings, numerous scientists and medics still recommend an e-cigarette as a tobacco replacement therapy. There’s no tobacco or combustion in vaping, just a premium vape juice and heating.
- In 2017, the British Medical Association and Royal College of General Practitioners mentioned vaping as a smoking cessation method in their reports.
- The Public Health England included vape products in its anti-smoking campaign ‘Stoptober’.
- The American Cancer Society advises adult smokers who find other methods unhelpful to switch to an alternative option that can reduce the health risk.
- The Superior Health Council in Belgium says that if giving up smoking is not possible or desired in a specific case, then a possibly temporary switch to vaping is preferable.
What about the evidence?
- The Centers for Disease Control presented the results of an online survey of 16,000 American cigarette smokers. The researchers stated that a higher percentage of U.S. adult smokers prefer substituting conventional cigarettes with electronic ones (35%) to using other nicotine replacement products like the nicotine patch or gum (25%).
- French scientists conducted a telephone survey of nearly 16,000 people in 2014. According to the answers, e-cigs were mostly used by smokers. Vaping could have helped 4,000 of smokers in France to quit in 2014, at least for some time.
- An analysis published in the Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal has a skeptical look on the issue. One of the authors, Dr. Stanton Glantz is a severe opponent of vaping. No wonder that the results are as follows: people who vaped were less successful in their quit attempts than those who didn’t.
Vaping as a route to smoking.
Many countries still ban vaping. Yet some places are taking into consideration the research evidence and are becoming vaping-friendly. In 2017, New Zealand canceled the ban and allowed selling vaping products. Canada is currently legalizing e-cigarettes.
A major reason for caution is the fear that vaping will lead to smoking, particularly in teenagers. Vaping is now more popular than smoking among young people. They can’t resist the temptation to try different vape juice flavors.
Two recent studies published by JAMA have made the headlines like “e-cigarettes serve as gateways to smoking in young population”. One study followed 694 participants aged between 12 and 26 years, another 2,530 14-year-old school students. All of them were never smokers. Some had tried e-cigarettes. The results of both studies were similar: e-cig triers were more likely to take at least one puff of a traditional combustible cigarette during the year: 31% vs 8% in the first study, 25% vs 9% in the second one.
However, the fact that young people tried tobacco cigarettes doesn’t necessarily mean that they became regular smokers. The results are easily shaken by a simple analogy. The studies used “at least one puff” or “just a few puffs” as a measurement. Let’s imagine an apple researcher thinking something like “taking at least one bite of an apple in the past half a year is a sure initiation of future apple eating.”
So, what conclusion can the average smoker make of the continued controversy on vaping? That there are facts and there is critical thinking to analyze them. If you’re a smoker, you should try vaping. You’ll feel healthier. But will it help you to quit? It’s a purely individual experience.
About the author:
Margaret Wilson, a blogger who writes about the healthy way of life (healthy food, sports, motivation etc.)
Now she studies vaping as an alternative for people who are struggling with smoking.