Concerns surrounding the harm caused by vaping run rife within the industry and online. Those who have chosen to delve a little deeper than horror stories on mainstream media or shock stories in the newspaper have probably found more uncertainties and questions than answers. I have put together this article to put an end to hearsay and answer some of those questions from an unbiased and informed perspective.
“Vaping is more addictive than smoking”
While e juice can contain nicotine, it is clearly labelled and used in easy to see incremental strengths to aid with precise dosing and easy to step down to aid with cessation. Of course, nicotine is an addictive chemical, yet in its pure form nicotine is a clear and relatively harmless liquid solution. Using vaping as an alternative to smoking is by far a less harmful, cost-effective, and effective means of intake. It has been claimed that vaping is “at least 95% less harmful than smoking” and while there aren’t many long-term studies to show this, what we can know from using short term studies is that taking away combustion, in turn, takes out the tar and carbon monoxide from the equation. This on its own is one of the main reasons this claim holds a lot of truth, as these are the things that cause most health defects in smokers. In conclusion, yes, nicotine is an addictive chemical however if used in a non-combustive way e.g. vaping, you drastically reduce the harm done to your body. Neither method is more addictive than the other, however, the nicotine in e juice is clearly labelled and controlled whereas cigarettes are not.
“But what about popcorn lung”
I’m sure everyone has heard at least one popcorn lung-related story or rumour. Let’s start with explaining what popcorn lung really is and where it originated. Popcorn lung aka Bronchiolitis Obliterans is a disease (not cancer) that was a name given to a condition caused by overexposure to a chemical called diacetyl. The persons affected worked in a popcorn factory and diacetyl was used as a flavour additive in microwave popcorn. Following this, a study was undertaken in the U.S to show how many e liquids contained the chemical. Out of 51 liquids tested 39 came back as containing diacetyl. This is where the idea vaping can cause popcorn lung came from. However, there was no study done or any evidence found that the levels present in the e-liquid were, in fact, harmful or that vaping it can even cause popcorn lung. As a result of these findings, diacetyl was banned in the production of e liquids. So, it’s safe to say that the concern of popcorn lung is long gone if it did ever pose a threat to our health.
“Second hand vaping vs second-hand smoke”
Second-hand smoke and second-hand vape are two completely different things and should not be put in the same category. It is well known that second-hand smoke is harmful. However, studies done by the PHE (public heath England) show that passive vaping poses no threat to health. Tobacco smoke contains hundreds of chemicals many of which are carcinogenic. Whereas e liquids contain 3 main ingredients, PG (propylene glycol), VG (vegetable glycerin), and flavour concentrates (already widely used for ingestion in foods). Unlike tobacco smoke, there is no side-stream of chemicals released from an e-cigarette into the atmosphere. This being said those with conditions such as asthma may still be sensitive to e juice vapour, so being considerate is key.
“How safe is vaping really?”
As many people are still unsure and so much misinformation surrounds the facts I’d like to share this link to a direct study done by PHE (public heath England). https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-cigarettes-around-95-less-harmful-than-tobacco-estimates-landmark-review. The study found that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking. It also found that 44% of smokers were wrongly informed that vaping is just as harmful or more so than smoking.