As public health concerns have grown over the years, the tobacco industry has attempted to make smoking less hazardous. Changes, such as added filters and the marketing of ‘light’ cigarettes, gave the appearance of reduced harm. Despite their market success, these measures did not minimize damage. Vaping and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are considered safer ways to consume nicotine and a possible alternative to smoking combustible cigarettes. Among the most addictive substances known is nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco that causes its pleasurable effects.
Many people have contemplated quitting smoking. A vast majority of smokers are eager to leave it. Every organ in your body is affected by smoking, including the heart, so quitting smoking is a great way to take care of yourself. Nearly one-third of heart disease deaths are directly related to smoking and secondhand smoke.
Electric cigarettes (vaporizers, e-cigarettes, etc.) might seem enticing to help you transition from smoking conventional cigarettes to quitting altogether. However, is vaping (also known as e-cigarette smoking) healthier than smoking tobacco? Are e-cigarettes effective in helping you stop smoking for good?
Why don’t we answer this burning question for good, shall we?
Smoking and vaping: what’s the difference?
Traditionally manufactured cigarettes and electronic cigarettes have the same goal: to deliver nicotine to the person smoking them. However, despite nicotine being a stimulant that helps people stay focused and alert, the experience of smoking or vaping itself can be psychologically soothing and addictive.
Even though both electronic and combustible cigarettes contain nicotine, their delivery systems differ. E-cigarettes work when the metal coil heats an e-liquid in the vaping device, which in turn releases nicotine in the form of an aerosol. In contrast, the burning of tobacco releases nicotine particles in combustible cigarettes.
Even though nicotine is addictive, it is not toxic like tar or other byproducts of burning tobacco. However, this doesn’t mean it is healthy. Nicotine causes memory problems, concentration issues, insomnia, and major withdrawal symptoms if you stop using it.
Smoking produces many byproducts that have alarmingly plagued health experts for years, including cadmium (used in batteries), lead, and ammonia (used in cleaning products). By avoiding combustion, you avoid unpleasant byproducts. It’s true that e-cigarettes don’t produce the same byproducts as cigarettes, or at least not in the same amounts. However, e-cigarettes create their own toxins, including heavy metals, pesticides, and flavorings that are unhealthy when inhaled. Unfortunately, the toxins found in e-cigarettes are different from those present in conventional cigarettes.
How does vaping affect your health?
Cigarettes cause cancer, as we all know. Certainly, it sounded too good to be true when e-cigs hit the scene in the last decade-all the pleasure of inhaling nicotine without the scary statistics of lung cancer.
Despite what seems to be a boon to lung health, e-cigarettes are not what they appear to be. As vaping-related deaths increased last year, researchers scrambled to determine what was causing them. Unfortunately, due to the relative newness of vaping, compared to smoking, scientists had little patient data available.
Inhaling vitamin E acetate, dispensed in cannabis products, is known to tear up your lungs when dissolved in vitamin E acetate. People customizing their vaping devices for cannabis products are causing 80 percent or more of those deaths. However, between 10 to 15 percent of those who came down with the disease regularly used nicotine e-cigarettes. There is no known cause for the remaining 5 to 10 percent of vaping-related deaths.
Right now, as COVID-19 dominates the medical landscape, the health risks of vaping are particularly relevant. For example, in a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers found vaping increases the risk of contracting influenza five times, and if you also smoke cigarettes, the risk increases seven times.
According to the CDC, 38 million Americans still smoke every day or most days, and the number of e-cigarettes grew by 300% from 2016 to 2019. On the other hand, the latest CDC figures show a decline in vaping among high schoolers in recent years (one in five students in contrast to one in four previously). However, this is countered by an alarming 1,000% rise in disposable e-cigarette use among teens, resulting from a loophole in the new law banning flavored e-cigarette cartridges but not disposables.
Can vaping help you quit smoking?
Although e-cigarettes are associated with health concerns, vaping companies continue to market them as an effective method to help people quit smoking. Studies have shown that 18 percent of smokers who used e-cigarettes as a cessation tool were able to stop smoking – and prevent relapse – for an entire year. Those numbers might not sound like much, but they’re nearly twice as many smokers who give up using traditional methods. (Both stunned the group attempting to quit independently, which had a 3 percent success rate.)
So, your goal is to quit smoking with vaping. Awesome. Well, not necessarily. The American Journal of Epidemiology reported in July 2020 that just 13 percent of people who vaped to quit smoking succeeded. UC San Diego researchers found that only 9.6% of people who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking did so after 12 months.
Moreover, vaping did not produce better cessation results in either study than traditional methods of quitting like medication, patches, or gum. Therefore, the vaping industry wants to spread the message that e-cigarettes can help you quit smoking. However, vaping is a controversial topic since even if it helps people stop smoking, they are still using e-cigarettes, so their nicotine dependence has not improved.
The Bottom Line
Quitting smoking is not easy, and we’re aware of that. Therefore, if you’re thinking about letting go of this harmful habit of yours, you should consult your doctor for some medically recommended methods. Because, in terms of adverse effects on the body, both vaping and smoking can cause lung damage and cancer. Instead of switching from one source of nicotine to another, you need to find a way to stop it.