Vaping has exploded in popularity in the last few years but the medical community are split on the health impacts.
Some claim that vaping is a practical way to get habitual smokers off cigarettes. Meanwhile others have said that we don’t know enough about the effects of long term exposure to the vaping liquids to claim it’s safe.
Here, writing for the medical blogging site The Hippocratic Post, medical experts explain both sides of the debate..
The reasons for vaping
Quitting smoking reduces the chances of getting ill
People who stop smoking cut there chances of getting a smoking-related disease surprisingly quickly.
Giving up the cigs is the most effective way to stop your lungs getting any worse even if you already have a condition caused by smoking, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), although the damage won’t ever completely heal, E-cigs act as a, relatively, healthy substitute.
This will have the added benefit of reducing pressure on the NHS and on society as a whole.
E-cigarettes are more effective at helping smokers quit that gum or patches
There is growing evidence that E-cigarettes are as effective, or even more effective, than other nicotine replacement methods like gum and patches.
However it is true there is a lot of ‘dual use’, which means people use both e-cigarettes and normal cigs.
Some people have suggested that e-cigarettes may be a ‘gateway’ for people to start smoking in the first place, but the fact that smoking rates have continued to fall while vaping has become more common suggests there is no evidence behind these concerns.
All the evidence points to vaping being less harmful than smoking
All the evidence we have suggests that vaping is at least 95 per cent less harmful than smoking, which gives them the potential to help protect the health of the nation.
This makes it a great if you’re a smoker who hasn’t yet managed to quit using other methods including using your local stop smoking service.
Although experts say this should be done with the longer term aim of eventually quitting vaping too, at least until more research has been carried out.
The reasons against vaping
Liquids from E-cigarettes still carry health risks
According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, germany, while e-cigarette users don’t inhale the cancer-causing chemicals and substances in tobacco smoke, it’s still dangerous.
This is because you’re inhaling nicotine. this can cause increased blood pressure, accelerated heartbeat, excessive production of stomach acid and increased adrenaline release.
Another possible risk of using e-cigarettes is nicotine poisoning in adults who use their device excessively. There have also been cases of children swallowing the liquids and being poisoned.
According to the assessment by the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, smoking e-cigarettes might can also lead to nicotine dependency, which may subsequently lead to more tobacco smoking.
The chemicals in the vape liquid can also be harmful. These include fumigation agents (propylene glycol, glycerine), chemical additives, added pharmacologically active compounds and various scent and aroma substances (e.g. menthol, linalool).
Propylene glycol, for example, can lead to irritation of the upper respiratory tract which can affect the lungs. Although little is known about the long-term effects of chronic exposure to propylene glycol.
In addition, there are indications in medical literature that some e-cigarette brands release cancer-causing aldehydes.
Risk for passive smokers of E-cigarette vape
There are also risks for passive smokers which with our current level of knowledge we can’t rule out.
A lot of different types of liquid are sold for e-cigarettes, which can contain different ingredients, meaning the nature of the substances that are inhaled and exhaled remain often unclear.
The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment recommends that e-cigarettes should be treated like normal cigarettes in non-smoking areas and that e-smoking is banned in such zones.