E-cigarettes are marketed as ‘safe alternatives’ to cigarettes, but are they actually a better alternative to tobacco products?

What is vaping?

Vaping is a term that means ‘smoking from an e-cigarette’. E-cigarettes are battery operated devices, that release vaporised nicotine – the same thing that makes cigarettes addictive. The difference to traditional cigarettes is that a liquid is heated rather than tobacco, so what is released is considered “smokeless.”

Are e-cigarettes safer than traditional ones?

Many people incorrectly believe that because the devices are smokeless, they are safer than traditional cigarettes. While e-cigarettes contain a shorter list of chemicals than traditional ones, vaping is still bad for your health. Many of the chemicals found in both cause long-lasting inflammation and result in chronic diseases such as emphysema (shortness of breath), bronchitis (severe coughing) and heart disease.

The key difference with e-cigarettes is no tobacco, but the doctors at House Call Doctor warn it isn’t only the tobacco that leads to lung cancer and other serious diseases. Smoking has been proven to take decades before diseases are formed, however when vaping the time before serious health risks emerge can be as short as a year.

Some studies have shown that DNA damage can be caused from vaping. Specifically, smoking e-cigarettes could result in DNA mutations that contribute to the development of lung and bladder cancers.

E-cigarettes still contain nicotine, causing users to crave vaping and suffer from withdrawal symptoms. Many e-cigarette users get even more nicotine than they would from a tobacco product as extra-strength cartridges, which have a higher concentration of nicotine can be bought, or you can increase the e-cigarette’s voltage to get more of the substance.

Given the switch to e-cigarettes is still recent, no long-term studies have yet been released to confirm or refute claims that vaping is less harmful than smoking. These differences won’t be known until the product has been on the market for around 20 years.

Another issue with the devices, is the risk of explosion. Thousands of cases have been reported around the globe, where users have suffered severe burns on their hands and face. This is commonly caused from the battery inside the devices overheating and catching fire.

The dangers of E-cigarette use in teenagers

In Australia, it is illegal to sell nicotine in liquid form, however many still attain it from poorly policed online stores. Many youngsters have tried vaping because of its playful packaging, marketing, lower price and flavouring. The practice is particularly dangerous for teens because:

  • Nicotine can harm brain development
  • The younger they begin, the more likely they will develop a life-long addition
  • It can be a possible gateway to a cigarette addiction.

If you want to quit smoking, should you switch to e-cigarettes to ease the process?

Many people turn to e-cigarettes as a transition to quitting smoking. So far there haven’t been any long-term studies that have proven the switch can help reduce smoking. The short-term studies have not seen a correlation between the use of the devices and reduced smoking. The reality is, many people never actually quit smoking and end up being dual users of cigarettes and vaporisers.

How to successfully quit vaping

Coping with nicotine withdrawals is the hardest thing to get past for users. Here are our top tips for handling withdrawal symptoms:

  1. Keep distracted. When you’re hit with the craving it will only last a few minutes so try moving your brain to concentrate on something else. This could be listening to music, scrolling social media or calling a friend.
  2. Exercise. Physical activity is proven to reduce withdrawal symptoms, as it is a natural endorphin boost compared to the rush from nicotine.
  3. Avoid substitutes. Nicotine patches and gums make it more difficult to quit as they simply keep the addiction alive in another form.
  4. Create a temptation free zone. Bin anything that is needed to vape or reminds you of the process.
  5. Tell your friends and family you’re quitting. There is nothing like your friends and family to hold you accountable to a goal.