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Electronic cigarettes have surged to popularity in recent times and with this newfound fame there has come an outpouring of scrutiny, both positive and negative. Most of this criticism has been aimed at the mass marketing of e-cigs as a "safe and healthier alternative" to smoking and not least, at the fact that teenagers and young adults are the ones being targeted by advertisements. The general consensus in the clinical world is that e-cigarettes aren't as bad for you as real cigarettes but they may still have a significant impact on your health, particularly if you suffer from asthma.
As e-cigs are relatively new to the market, the impact they have on your health is reasonably unknown. Despite this, many studies have found that e-cigs can help smokers quit in the long term. One such study, which was published in The Cochrane Library, found that about nine per cent of smokers who used e-cigarettes were able to stop smoking at up to one year, compared with four per cent of those in the trial using nicotine-free e-cigarettes. If more people are quitting real tobacco through the use of e-cigarettes then their impact has to be one of a positive nature. However, there is a school of thought that believes e-cigarettes are creating a new generation of customers for the lucrative tobacco industry, who may've previously not started smoking.
Many doctors have also expressed concerns about the vapour that is inhaled through the use of e-cigs, suggesting that it could trigger an allergic reaction or worsen asthma symptoms. Dr. Andrew Davidson said that:
E-cigarettes generally contain nicotine, but they don't have the tar that you get from lighting up and smoking a cigarette. The tar causes a lot of damage to the lungs, but nicotine is still something that causes inflammation
Doctors have also aired concerns about the variety of flavourings that are often sold as part of an e-cigarette pack, suggesting that they can cause an allergic reaction. The difficulty is in identifying the allergy and understanding whether this is because of an ingredient in the e-liquid or because of smoking cessation.
The e-cigarette furore will continue as health authorities and industry leaders try to adapt to the changing environment. The most important point to note is that the true impact of e-cigarettes is not fully known and so, if you suffer from asthma, I would always air on the cautious side when considering vaping.