Electronic cigarettes – can they be used as a replacement for the tobacco smoker? Or are they a new- fangled way to get a new generation hooked to a bad habit? Can you vape tobacco? Is vaping better than smoking?
Is nicotine bad for you? Most definitely yes, regardless of how you look at it. But it’s actually the smoke from burning nicotine that does the most harm, a vape pen is a far safer alternative in that regard, at least.
Research on the effects of e cig pens isn’t as extensive as their popularity has become. But whether the medical community is ready or not, the age of vaping is here. It is a billion dollar industry set to outsell conventional tobacco products with ten years. The teen and tween population using these products doubled from 2011 to 2012.
It is time you become more informed about this new trend that has taken the world by storm.
Are vaporizers safe?
The nicotine present in the cigarettes can be addictive. When you cease to use it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that include an irritable mood, restlessness, increased appetite, anxiety, depression and so on. It can be even more harmful for those with a heart condition and may damage your arteries as time passes.
Is vape pen bad for you?
Up until now, evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes, as far as short term vaporizer safety is concerned. The biggest contributor to health damage from tobacco is its smoke, and a tobacco vaporizer will not burn the herb, instead heating it to produce inhalable vapors.
A study conducted by scientists ran an e-cigarette at both low and high voltage. At low voltage they weren’t able to find any traces of formaldehyde. But when running it on high voltage they did discover some.
Formaldehyde is a known cancer causing chemical, which is also present in tobacco smoke, along with hundreds of other toxins and dozens of carcinogens. The authors of the study gave the conclusion that someone who vaped heavily at the high voltage would be at 15 times greater risk to get cancer than a longtime smoker – or so it appeared in their research.
There isn’t much doubt that studies such as these have a direct effect on the public’s opinion of vaping.
Although cigarettes cause 480,000 deaths in America annually – and although it is actually the tobacco smoke and not the nicotine which is the killer – a lot of people in the public health community consider vaporizers to be just as bad as cigarettes.
Every small bit of news suggests that vaping is an unhealthy practice, most of which is exaggerated, yet it is embraced illogically by the anti-tobacco activists. One result of this blind adoption of media’s distorted version of the truth is that the percentage of current smokers who thought e-cigarettes were safer than regular cigarettes dropped from 84 in 2010 to 65 in 2013.
Even worse, around a third of the people who had gone from e-cigarettes to ordinary smoking had done so because they believed the former to be more harmful to their health than the latter, as indicated by a recent research published in the Nicotine & Tobacco Research Journal.
The study from Portland State is no different – although it is factually true that vaporizing at a very high voltage will result in the development of formaldehyde releasing agents, but the conclusion of the study is extremely misleading. People would never vape at such a high voltage because it results in a terrible, burnt taste due to overheating of the liquid, according to Konstantinos Farsalinos, a scientists / vaping expert from Greece.
Farsalinos had done studies on vapers and found that after a certain voltage – which was lower than the high voltage tested in the Portland State study – people are simply unable to inhale the vapor because of its bad taste.
The truth is that the study actually is good news. When you use them at their normal voltage, the vaping process won’t release any formaldehyde.
Instead of scaring people about the dangers of using e-cigarettes and alarming them about the fact that it carries a cancer risk greater than that from smoking, what is needed are regulations for the temperature and voltage conditions of electronic cigarettes so the issue of formaldehyde production can be avoided altogether.
But if the researches keep biasing their findings towards smoking, as in the case of the study by Portland State, it won’t be a surprise if mainstream headline writers get the wrong message time and again.
Side effects of vapor smoking?
Regardless of what the minor problems may be, vaping has some unique benefits. Do vape pens smell? Not a bit, so you can easily use them in public. Do vaporizers have nicotine? This is entirely up to you – you can buy a flavor which includes nicotine, or you may go for a totally nicotine free flavor!
Pros and Cons
E-cigarettes have started a fiery debate amongst health experts who have a common end goal – bring down the death and disease resulting from tobacco use. But they aren’t agreed on whether vaporizers make this problem better or worse.
Those who oppose e-cigarettes say that since nicotine is addictive, vape pens may become a getaway drug, leading non-smokers and children to use tobacco.
They are also concerned that the producers, using bigtime ad budgets and endorsements from celebrities, might make smoking popular once more, essentially rolling back decades of progress in turning people to away from smoking.
Proponents of e-cigarettes see the possible benefits for smokers. Even though it would be absolutely great if smokers could quit smoking forthwith and completely, it isn’t nearly as easy. In that case, tobacco vaporizers are a far safer and healthier alternative.
There are also supporters who hold the view that e-cigarettes could help smokers quit, in a manner similar to nicotine gum – preliminary research seems promising, but more long-term, detailed study is required for a conclusion.
Chemicals present in cigarettes
Besides the costlier long term cost of cigarettes and the smell of tobacco cigarette smoke as compared to the inoffensive and normally pleasing scent of vaping, combusting tobacco results in a smoke which is basically a cocktail of harmful chemicals that affect both the smoker and those around them. These include:
- Acetaldehyde – potential cancer causing chemical.
- Acetone – an irritant which can damage the liver and kidneys.
- Acrolein – highly toxic.
- Acronitrile – potentially causes cancer in humans.
- 1-aminonaphthalene – carcinogen.
- 2-aminonaphthalene – can cause cancer of the bladder.
- Ammonia – elevates blood pressure.
- Benzene – carcinogen.
- Benzo[a]pyrene – mutagenic and highly cancer causing.
- 1,3-Butadiene – potential carcinogen.
- Butyraldehyde – harms the lining of lungs and nose.
- Cadmium – a highly toxic heavy metal.
- Carbon Monoxide – reduces the function of muscles and heart.
- Catechol – can cause irritation in the respiratory tract, as well as dermatitis.
- Chromium – a carcinogenic heavy metal.
- Cresol – can cause irritation in the throat, nose and respiratory tract.
- Crotonaldehyde – believed to run interference in the human immune system.
- Formaldehyde – can cause cancer.
- Hydrogen cyanide – lethal poison.
- Hydroquinone – impacts the central nervous system effects.
- Nickel – leads to bronchial asthma and is a famous carcinogen.
- Nicotine – elevates blood pressure and heart rate, addictive.
- Nitric Oxide – associated with degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, as well as with asthma.
- NAT, NNK, and NNN – confirmed or potential carcinogens.
- Phenol – harmful for the kidneys and liver; as well as the central nervous system, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory system.
- Polonium – radioactive substance.
- Propionaldehyde – respiratory, visual and skin systems are irritated.
- Pyridine – leads to the irritation of upper respiratory and eye tract.
- Quinoline – leads to damage of the genes and is a potential carcinogen.
- Resorcinol – irritates the eye and skin.
- Sytrene – carcinogenic.
- Toluene – associated with lasting brain damage.
According to Australian scientist Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki, the polonium released as you smoke a tobacco cigarette is like getting 200 chest x-rays for a year.
Chemicals in e-cigarettes
The abovementioned list is just some of the compounds and chemicals present in tobacco smoke. Lets compare this to the vape pen list:
- Propylene glycol – present in asthma inhalers as well as nebulizers. It has been ‘generally recognized as safe’ by the USA FDA.
- Vegetable glycerol – low amount of toxicity, present in medications, food items and cosmetics.
The only remaining chemicals are the flavorings themselves, which, if taken from a quality manufacturer, will be food grade and considered safe. In any case, they make a very small volume of the overall e-liquid.
However, remember that food flavorings are meant to be digested rather than vaped, and the long term effects of doing the former aren’t established as yet.
Having said that, very few cancer causing compounds have been discovered in e-cigarette vapors, and those that were found were present in trace amounts, a lot less than in tobacco smoke, and also lesser than that present in standard nicotine replacement procedures.
Bear in mind that you’ll be getting a more potent dose of nicotine via vaping as compared to smoking though.
Once you factor in the annual pack of cigarettes cost, it is a no brainer as to which is the better option.
What Parents Must Be Aware Of
Parents must remember that whether it is smoking vapor pen or a cigarette, nicotine affects brain development in kids and teens.
Certain flavors are like candy, which would make them appealing for children, and since they don’t leave a lingering smell like tobacco, parents will have to be extra vigilant to find out whether they’re child is vaping.
What Smokers and Adults Should Know
Can you vape tobacco? Most definitely, using an herbal vaporizer device, but if you are a non-smoker, do not try this – there are no health benefits and a number of risks to it. If you’re a smoker trying to quit, start with other FDA approved methods before resorting to e-cigarettes.
If you don’t intend to quit, then it would probably be healthier to switch to e-cigarettes, talk to your doctor beforehand though.
As the smoking vs. vaping debate continues, cities such as LA, NY and Boston have passed laws regulating the way people purchase or use vaporizers in public, and larger changes are quite likely. New regulations have been proposed by the FDA which will extend the agency’s authority over a number of tobacco related products – this includes e-cigarettes.
A minimum age for e-cigarette usage is also part of the propositions.