Stop Smoking Tuesday March 8, 2016

What Are The Risks of Vaping?

Hold on, What Is Vaping?

Vaping is the use of an electronic vapour cigarette in place of a tobacco one.

It's estimated 2.6 million people in the UK use 'e-cigs' and numbers could soon grow because the NHS will be able to prescribe them as a support for quitters next year. Specifically, the e-Voke is cleared for medical use.

What Are The Health Risks?

Researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health took 52 types of flavoured e-cigarettes and tested them for the chemical diacetyl. 92% of the e-cigarettes tested flagged it up.

Diacetyl is used as a flavouring but it has the nasty side effect of 'popcorn lung' when inhaled.

Popcorn lung is when tiny tears in the air sacs are created - they can lead to lung scarring, shortness of breath and coughing. Sounds like a real cigarettes, no? Popcorn lung has no cure. The US researchers believe that e-cigs worldwide are likely to have the same chemicals as the American ones they tested.

Other chemicals were found too including acetoin and pentanedione - flavouring compounds that cause respiratory problems. At least one of these chemicals were found in 47 of 51 flavours tested.

One of the researchers David Christiani said "there is still much we do not know about e-cigarettes". This is true. They are a new concept and long-term side effects have not been researched yet. Nicotine itself is an addictive substance and other research has found the vapour from e-cigarettes makes the MRSA superbug more deadly. Who knows what the experts will tell us about them in 20 year's time.

What Should We Do Then?

Public Health England claims that 76,000 lives could be saved each year if smokers switched to vaping. However, there are claims that this research was undertaken partly by the e-cigarette industry skewing the bias somewhat.

Although e-cigs (as far as we know) are less harmful than tobacco that doesn't mean they are actually good for you. At best, vaping should be used as a stop-gap to move smokers from cigarettes to nothing. In other words, we ought to look upon vaping as a means to an end, not a long term hobby or a new cool occupation for the kids. We don't know enough about the long term effects of vaping to say it's totally safe.

If you are looking to quit smoking, there's lots of support. Nicotine patches and gum are available, as are e-cigs. Chat to your doctor or the local 'quit smoking' team on the 9th March - it is No Smoking Day after all. There's no better time to start your tar AND nicotine free life.


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