Vaping vs. smoking; a reminder of the facts
2019 was a difficult year for vaping, the arguments about their risks and benefits continued and in many countries around the world governments took steps to ban or restrict vapour products. There was also a lot of negative and confusing press. At My Vape Box we always tried to address these stories in a balanced manner so people could make an informed choice. As 2020 starts it feels like a good time to go over the facts…
The most concerning development last year came from the USA, where a series of serious respiratory problems and even deaths were linked to e-cigarettes. There was even advice issued by the centres for disease control and prevention that “vapers should stop using the products immediately.” Most e-cigarette users realised this was a ridiculous knee jerk reaction and it didn't take long for it to become clear that nicotine vapour products were not the cause. At the end of the year there was enough evidence for most to admit that the cause was cartridges containing cannabis and in particular a substance called vitamin E acetate that had been bought off the streets or illicit markets. It was not 'vaping' causing these problems but what they were vaping.
However, these stories triggered many people to question the health risks of vaping, not just in the US but even long term vapers here in the UK. Let's remind ourselves of the positive benefits of vaping over smoking.
The health risks of smoking
The health risks of smoking cigarettes is well researched and couldn't be any clearer. Every year in the UK 100,000 people die from smoking related illness and many more suffer from debilitating smoking-related conditions. Smoking causes the vast majority of all lung cancers, and it can also seriously damage the heart and arteries. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of dangerous chemicals, including at least 70 known to cause cancer.
The health risks of vaping
While the long-term health risks of vapour products are not as clear, all the credible evidence points vaping being far less harmful. The Royal College of Physicians' report from 2016 says that the risks of using a vapour product “are unlikely to exceed 5% of those associated with smoking and may well be substantially lower than this figure.” No research they have conducted since has led them to change this opinion.
The evidence of vaping being an effective harm reduction tool is overwhelming and undeniable. If you switch to vaping, you will be doing much less damage to your body than you were as a smoker. This is a fact recognised by Cancer Research UK, NHS UK and many health experts. Switching to an e-cigarette that is at least 95% less harmful than smoking a traditional cigarette is going to make a very big difference to your long-term health.
What about nicotine in e-cigarettes?
Some people will still have concerns about consuming nicotine. It's important to remember that by using e-cigarettes or other nicotine replacement products we can separate nicotine from smoking. The evidence is that in the amounts we consume as vapers, nicotine is considered 'fairly harmless' by health professionals. There is no evidence that nicotine alone causes cancer or heart disease. Nicotine is not what makes smoking so harmful. The Royal Society for Public Health UK have stated that nicotine is “no more harmful to health than caffeine”.
Nicotine is a drug and can be highly addictive but without all the other chemicals and compounds in cigarette smoke it is not a particularly dangerous substance in the amounts contained in vapour products.
Tobacco cigarettes linked to cancer
The worst thing about smoking cigarettes is its link to cancer, and not just lung cancer. Smoking tobacco does cause 84% of deaths from lung cancer, but also more than 93% of throat cancers are caused by smoking too. Smokers also have an increased chance of getting stomach cancer and if you regularly smoke 10 cigarettes a day, you are one and a half times more likely to develop kidney cancer compared with a non-smoker. In women, smoking also increases your risk of cervical cancer. It's worth saying again that it's not nicotine causing these cancer risks, it's all the other carcinogenic compounds in the smoke. Getting your nicotine from a vapour product (or other nicotine replacement) massively reduces your risk.
Other people are affected by tobacco smoke too
It's not only your own health that benefits from switching to a vapour product. There is no current evidence that second-hand vapour is harmful to people around you either. Last year the Royal Collage of Midwives published a report that was extremely positive about the benefits of vaping as a way to help pregnant women who are smokers to stop smoking and help protect unborn children and new born babies from the damage that smoking can do. Even cutting down smoking while pregnant is still exposing your baby to thousands of toxins that aren't in vaping products. They also concluded that based on the current available, there is no reason to believe that use of an e-cigarette has any adverse effect on breastfeeding.
While vaping is never going to be 100% harmless, it's clear that when you try to compare smoking to vaping there really is no comparison to make. Other than vaping being an excellent way to ditch the cigarettes for good and a way to continue getting nicotine, they are far apart when it comes to the harm and effects on your body. It's like comparing a fresh salad to a chocolate bar, they are both food but other than that they don't have much in common.
Your personal health and the health of those around you is probably always going to be the number one benefit of switching from smoking to vaping but there are also other benefits. The high price of cigarettes and tobacco is one of the other reasons you might start to think about switching to vaping as you can save a lot of money by doing so. How much you choose to spend on vaping and how much you save is largely up to you. Some people will buy an inexpensive 'all in one' system and be happy with that, only needing to buy replacement coils and e-liquid every month or two. Others will decide to buy more vaping products and spend more, but if you don't turn vaping in to a collecting hobby then there are massive savings to be made. It's highly motivational, and easier to stay away from cigarettes when you see the pounds and pennies adding up over just a few months.
E-cigarettes have helped have hundreds of thousands of people in the UK quit smoking. We are happier and healthier because of it. We've saved money and we smell much nicer. If you are thinking of making the switch this year then we encourage you to give vaping a try. The withdrawal symptoms we've all experienced trying to stop smoking and quit nicotine at the same time will be either reduced dramatically or not manifest at all and with e-liquid coming in a range of nicotine strengths it's also far easier to reduce your nicotine intake and your dependency over the long term. There are so many positives to switching to a vapour product, some will be personal to you and your circumstances, but be honest and ask yourself, are there any positives to smoking or just excuses?