For anyone who is or used to be a smoker, you have probably heard time and time again that vaping is the new path to a smoke free future. Maybe it’s the allure of having multiple flavour options or knowing one can vape without numerous complaints from bystanders, or quite possibly they have determined it’s a more affordable habit than smoking. But the number one reason for users switching from smoking to vaping is the reduced health effects.
We know that vaping differs from smoking in a number of ways, but perhaps the most significant is the lack of burning that occurs when using an e-cigarette or vaping device. When a user smokes a cigarette the tobacco leaves must be burned in order to transfer the nicotine from the cigarette to the lungs. The nicotine is transferred via tobacco smoke, through the lungs, and absorbed into the blood system. These events cause what users refer to as the “kick” or “rush”, which is the result of an adrenaline release from the adrenal glands which increases blood pressure and heart rate. Along with this kick comes a surge of endorphins, which are the leading factor in the addictiveness of nicotine. Like many other addictive drugs, nicotine satisfies the reward pathway in the brain which encourages the user to do it again, and again, and again. Once nicotine is in the system regularly, the body becomes accustomed to its presence and exhibits unfavourable symptoms when the nicotine concentration becomes too low, such as headaches, irritability, and anxiety, making it difficult for most users to stop smoking once they’ve decided it’s time.
To increase the effects of nicotine on the body many tobacco companies add hundreds of other chemicals intended to keep the user addicted so they continue to purchase big tobacco products. The large concern here is the lack of concern big tobacco has for its customers, as these added chemicals along with the products naturally formed from burning tobacco leaves have been proven to cause significant health risks to the user.
Enter vaping, a new method of nicotine delivery which reduces the health risks to the user. Many people are switching over to vaping because it has been proven to be a safer alternative to smoking. The question is, how much safer? By eliminating the tobacco leaves completely, we are now removing the roughly 7,000 chemicals inhaled from tobacco smoke, 70 of those chemicals known to cause or contribute to cancer. Without these chemicals the only known addictive substance found in e-liquid is in fact nicotine. By this we can deduce that not only is vaping safer because it reduces the number of harmful chemicals entering the body, but also because it decreases the user’s dependence and offers them more freedom to choose the lifestyle they wish with less likeliness of experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This is not to say the switching to vaping is a healthy choice, only that it is a healthier choice than smoking cigarettes. With the vaping industry being a rather new one, and only recently regulated in Canada, there is still a lot of unexplored territory when it comes to the safety of vaping.
There is a strong focus in the scientific community on the safety of vaping, the long term effects, and the devices used to administer e-liquids. There are growing concerns about the emissions inhaled from burning coils and cottons, the chemical breakdown of vaporized e-liquids, and what these products will do to our bodies over a longer period of time, especially where teens are concerned. The reality of these issues is that we do not have all the answer yet, and I urge readers to be cautious of the articles they read online. Look for the creditable evidence, the scientific journals, and don’t believe everything you read just because you trust the person that sent it to you. Vaping is most certainly a healthier option than smoking, but to what degree … only science will tell.
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