E-Cigarettes and vaping is a growing industry, and it really is no surprise - despite many articles providing inaccurate and incomplete information regarding the safety of e-cigarettes and the liquids used in them, all the evidence points towards vaping being much less harmful than cigarette smoking.
The UK’s National Health Service is beginning to licence electronic cigarettes as a tool to stop smoking, recognising at the highest level of medical authority that electronic cigarettes are significantly less harmful than traditional tobacco cigarettes.
VAPING VS SMOKING: WHY IS VAPE CONSIDERED TO BE THE SAFER ALTERNATIVE TO SMOKING
Vaping is a way of delivering the highly addictive nicotine, found in tobacco, into the body in the same action as smoking - inhaling. The difference is that smoking tobacco requires combustion - burning - where vaping uses a coil to heat the e-liquid into an aerosol, which is inhaled.
The act of burning anything results in an amount of incomplete combustion, which means that the carbon molecules are not fully oxidised - this results in carbon monoxide being formed, instead of carbon dioxide. Carbon monoxide is problematic because it sticks to our blood cells, reducing their ability to transport oxygen around the body.
E-cigarettes heat the e-liquid - this is the mixture that contains the nicotine - into an aerosol, so no burning takes place.
WHAT ARE THE HARMFUL CHEMICALS/SUBSTANCES FOUND IN CIGARETTES?
Tobacco smoke contains a litany of harmful chemicals including:
Hydrogen cyanide (chemical weapon)
Nitrosamines (many are carcinogenic)
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (some of these get broken down in the body and turned into compounds that damage DNA)
Over 60 chemicals in tobacco smoke are known to cause cancer; tar clogs up the lungs, carbon monoxide clogs up red blood cells - all in all, tobacco smoke contains a lot of nasty stuff that doesn’t do you any good!
Tobacco companies have been tailoring their cigarettes for high nicotine bioavailability - this means many of the extra chemicals added to tobacco increase the absorption of nicotine.
HOW DOES SMOKING AFFECT YOUR CARDIO-VASCULAR HEALTH?
One of the big reasons cigarette users need to stop smoking is the increased risk of cardiovascular disease that smoking induces.
Smokers typically have higher resting heart rates than their non-smoking counterparts, but smoking also slows the natural increase in heart rate when engaging in exercise. This means the heart is having a hard time adjusting to the increased demand for energy, struggling to deliver oxygen fast enough. Smokers also fall short of their age-predicted maximum heart rate (HRmax), this demonstrates the potential damage from smoking.
Smoking also triggers a number of processes that lead to arteriosclerosis which is the hardening of the arteries. Smoking contributes to this by increasing insulin resistance, this leads to more glucose in the blood which contributes to the build-up of plaque in the blood vessels; these plaques end up blocking the blood vessels, and this is known as thrombosis.
Dyslipidemia is another process triggered by smoking: this is abnormal levels of cholesterol and other fats (lipids) in the blood, and this contributes to the build up of arterial plaque. These blockages reduce blood flow - this means the heart needs to pump faster, which leads to increased blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart attack and other heart disease.
HOW DOES SWITCHING TO VAPING HELP QUIT SMOKING?
The good news is that your body begins to recover when you pack in the cigarettes. New evidence indicates that this includes switching over to vaping!
These improvements in the space of a single month suggest that vaping long term is better for your health than staying a long term smoker. This is more positive evidence that indicates current cigarette smokers can use electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.
SMOKING VS VAPING. WHAT DO THE STUDIES AND RESEARCH SAY?
The Royal College of Physicians, UK, assessed the available data and concluded that e-cigarettes would unlikely surpass 5% of the damage done by traditional tobacco products. Public Health England agrees with this statement; the latest evidence review concludes that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes.
For the past few years, stories have been hitting the newspapers about e-cigarette and vaping associated lung injury (EVALI). Over in the US, ingredients were being added to vape liquids that are not allowed here in the UK and Europe - flavourings like diacetyl is one such liquid and causes the lung disease known as bronchiolitis obliterans, or ‘popcorn lung’.
A study that investigated the contents and composition of e-cigarette aerosol illustrates the apparent reduction in harm that vaping has, compared to smoking. While the newspapers were honest in that some of the same chemicals are generated in e-cigarettes, the quantities found in e-cigarettes were fractions of those found in tobacco smoke.
The study also referenced another investigation that used machine generated e-cigarette aerosol in an enclosed space, and found that the levels of harmful particulates (shared with tobacco smoke) did not exceed background levels, supporting the idea that ‘passive vaping’ does not carry the same dangers as passive smoking.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT VAPE DEVICE FOR THOSE LOOKING TO QUIT SMOKING
We have established that switching to vaping is a big step in the right direction for any smoker. The first step on this journey is choosing a device that works for your needs!
Long term smokers may find a cig-a-like to be the best starting device: the cig-a-likes have the same appearance as a cigarette, making for an easy swap! A small pod system looks quite different from a cigarette, but is a convenient size and functions very similarly to a cigalike.
For someone making the switch from cigarettes, I would highly recommend going for one of the simple, straightforward options; like the cig-a-like or a small pod system. The bigger vape pens and box mods require more maintenance, more spare parts, time to fill the tank, carrying bottles of liquid with you - a lot more effort is required. A stress free option is probably the best for someone quitting smoking!
REASONS WHY VAPING IS BETTER FOR YOUR HEART THAN SMOKING CONCLUSION
It has taken some time, but with each new study, we find promising indications that the harm from vaping is far outweighed by the harm from smoking.
From the massively reduced levels of toxins, to the elimination of tar and carbon monoxide, all signs point to vaping as much less harmful than smoking, and smokers should be encouraged to try e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool, particularly if they haven’t had success with other methods. The evidence says your heart will thank you!
If you are an adult smoker who is looking for some help to quit cigarettes, here are some of the UK's most popular e-cigarette and vape starter kit deals designed to help you to quit for good.