E-cigarettes: No smoke without fire?

Vaping became the Oxford English Dictionary’s “word of the year” in 2014 as popularity boomed. Lines were being drawn between those who were invested in discovering the truth about ecigs and those who wanted to find evidence to support their opposition. With recent renewed attacks on vaping due to illegal vape sales in Scotland, what is the current understanding of the safety of vaping?

While we now have a wealth of evidence supporting the use of electronic cigarettes as a quit smoking tool, we also face a situation where more people than ever mistakenly believe vaping to be as bad or worse than smoking.

The simple truth about smoking is widely accepted: burning tobacco leaves at up to 900 degrees centigrade creates carbon monoxide, tar, and a multitude of toxins. These by-products of smoking lead to illness and death.

We now know that nicotine isn’t an issue. Despite some falsely fearing it causes cancer, the Royal Society of Public Health has written that nicotine is no more harmful than caffeine. We also now know that nicotine isn’t as addictive away from the toxins in cigarette smoke and that vaping delivers less nicotine to the body, which makes ecigs much less addictive than cigarettes.

Studies on vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol, the two main components of e-liquid, have led to them being accepted for use in many pharmaceutical products.

Fears over flavourings mainly arise from poor practice in other countries. In the United Kingdom, all nicotine containing juices must be tested and then registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. This ensures that we do not vape substances that have been identified as harmful by toxicological research.

Of the toxic compounds that can be found in both cigarette smoke and ecig vapour, the UK Health Security Agency (which used to be Public Health England) has analysed the evidence and concluded that the levels in vapour are around 1% of those found in smoke – a very substantial reduction in risk.

University College London research has backed up this position, with one piece of work stating: “Long-term … e-cigarette–only use … is associated with substantially reduced levels of measured carcinogens and toxins relative to smoking only combustible cigarettes.”

Other independent research (work not funded by an interest group) over the last decade has revealed that switching to vaping improves blood pressure, asthma, and reduces COPD symptoms. Also, it has shown that the chance of having a heart attack reduces and the lungs operate better.

The independent work has led the UK Government to now state that vaping caries 0.5% of the risk of contracting cancer when compared to cigarette smoking.

So, while vaping is not safe, initial fears about the potential “fire” attached to the “smoking” of e-cigs have proven to be unfounded. Over a decade’s work looking at the technology has consistently shown electronic cigarettes to be orders of magnitude safer than smoking tobacco.

If you haven’t made the switch yet, why not check out our starter kits and feel the benefit?