A Look at E-cigarettes and Vaping

As New Year approaches, thoughts might turn to resolutions and the hope for a healthier, happier you. Smoking cessation is regularly at the top of the list with 67% of smokers wanting to quit. The statistics also show, however, that only 30% to 40% will make an attempt to do so in any given year. Although there has been a steady decline over the years, one in five people in the UK still smoke. Enter the e-cigarette.

The dangers of smoking tobacco products are well known. There are thousands of harmful chemical compounds in cigarettes, including arsenic, cyanide, formaldehyde, tar, carbon monoxide, benzene, lead and DDT (pesticide). There are 43 known and 400 potentially carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals in regular cigarettes. Then in 2003, a Chinese pharmacist invented a device that electronically heats up a liquid nicotine solution into an inhalable vapour. ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery systems) contain a fraction of the nicotine found in cigarettes. They produce no ash, tar or carbon monoxide. Nor do they contain the majority of carcinogenic or potentially cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarettes. So far, so good.

Does this mean that e-cigarettes or vaping are harmless? Although research is ongoing, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicate that vaping is not a benign tool for smoking cessation. E-cigarettes appear to contain varying levels of nicotine as well as a number of harmful chemicals, just not the same ones found in combustible tobacco products. What’s more, the composition of vapour will vary in content and concentration from one manufacturer to the next as there are currently few industry regulations or guidelines. In a 2014 review, the FDA stated, “Various chemical substances and ultrafine particles known to be toxic, carcinogenic and/or cause respiratory and heart disease have been identified in e-cigarette aerosols, cartridges, refill liquids and environmental emissions”. Other studies have also shown that high levels of toxic metal nanoparticles have been found. These are associated with inflammation of the lungs as well as being linked to asthma, stroke and heart disease.

There have been concerns that vaping might cause Popcorn Lung. This condition was first flagged when several workers at a microwave popcorn processing facility developed a debilitating and irreversible disease that caused scarring in the tiny air sacs of the lungs. The condition was due to inhalation of diacetyl fumes, a chemical flavouring used to create the popcorn’s buttery taste. Diacetyl is also used in many e-cigarette flavours. The NHS stated on their website (December 8/15) that diacetyl was detected in 39 of 51 vaping flavours tested.

The other issue with vaping is its value as a tool for smoking cessation. A 2016 analysis found, based on 20 different studies, that smokers who vaped were 28% less likely to quit compared to smokers who had not vaped. In a 2014 report, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that while some smokers will switch completely to e-cigarettes, most will partake of both combustible cigarettes and vaping. They continue, “The dual use of e-cigarettes and tobacco will have much smaller beneficial effects on overall survival compared with quitting smoking completely.”

Marketed as being safer and healthier than smoking tobacco, the industry is taking a harm reduction approach. However, from what has been shown in scientific studies to date, vaping poses a similar threat to that of regular cigarettes, just with different chemicals while its actual value as a smoking cessation tool is dubious. If you are thinking of quitting smoking, speak to your doctor and by all means, research all the options yourself. The NHS supports nicotine gum and patches as preferable stop smoking aids while studies on hypnotherapy and smoking cessation have shown positive results. There are ways and means of boosting your confidence and increasing your success rate. Any type of smoking is a habit worth kicking.

By Elaina Curran, HPD, DSFH, AdvDPLRT, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Past Life Regression Therapist

Published in BS35Local Magazine, Christmas 2017 issue

 

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