The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
It’s a fact that every day more people are switching from smoking tobacco to vaping e cigs. The benefits of vaping over tobacco are well established, but the media and various government institutions still run stories about how vaping is bad for our health. Most of these stories play on the fact that vaping is still relatively new and the long term effects are unstudied.
But who do we believe?
On the one hand we have respected institutions like the NHS and Royal College of Physicians saying that e cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking tobacco, but on the other hand, almost weekly we read horror stories about vaping being just as bad, if not worse than smoking.
So is vaping really as bad as the media makes out? Let’s look at some vaping pros and cons.
There has been a lot of discussion about which is worse vaping or smoking, and the resounding answer is that vaping is better. A simple look at the facts can set our minds at rest when it comes to how vaping is better than smoking.
1 - Vaping Is Safer
Tobacco cigarettes contain over 7000 chemical compounds, 250 of which are poisonous and 70 that can cause cancer, whereas e liquid only contains four. When you add flavourings into e liquid the chemical count is higher, but even the most complex flavours don’t contain anywhere near the amount of chemicals found in a traditional cigarette.
Also, traditional cigarettes contain tar, which can blacken your lungs and cause various types of lung disease. The NHS carried out an independent study that found that e cigarettes are 95% safer than tobacco.
They even offer e cigs free to patients who wish to quit smoking. Check it out.
It’s true that certain chemicals have been discovered in certain flavours of e liquid that may be harmful, and we’ve all read about this in various sensational headlines. But the fact is that these chemicals, like formaldehyde have always been present in traditional cigarettes. So we might be exposed in some way by vaping certain flavours, but the risk is still much lower than smoking traditional cigarettes.
2 - Vaping Is Healthier
The fact that there are far fewer chemicals in e liquid, and zero tar means that it’s a healthier alternative to smoking. Tar is produced by the burning of tobacco and other plant material in the act of smoking. Tar is toxic and damages the lungs over time through various biochemical and mechanical processes. Tar is the number one thing in smoking which is bad for athletes in that it clogs up the lungs and makes it more difficult to breathe under stress. The fact that e liquid contains no tar whatsoever means it’s much healthier for your lungs, your arteries and your overall health.
3 - Vaping Is Cleaner
Another benefit of vaping over smoking, is that it’s cleaner. Because it doesn’t contain tar it doesn’t yellow your fingers or teeth like traditional cigarettes. It also doesn’t smell or leave a heavy cloud of smoke in the air. Vaping leaves, as its name suggests, vapour in the air which disperses quickly, unlike smoke which tends to hang and cling to anything it touches.
4 - Vaping Is Cheaper
Other vaping benefits include price. The cost of smoking cigarettes has increased exponentially over the years and it’s now almost £10 for a packet of twenty. You’ll get roughly 1800 puffs out of a 10ml bottle of e liquid, which costs around £5. You’ll get roughly 360 puffs out of a pack of 20 cigarettes, so I’ll leave you to do the maths on that one.
So when it comes to the question of should you be vaping or smoking, it’s quite obvious to the lay person that vaping is safer, healthier, cleaner and cheaper. But is it 100% safe?
I’m of the persuasion that nothing in life is 100% safe. Driving certainly isn’t 100% safe. Neither is drinking, or flying on a plane. Crossing the road to work isn’t 100% safe, so why should we expect vaping to be 100% safe. The fact is there are risks to vaping the same as there are to everything else you do in life. It might be safer than smoking, but what exactly are the risks?
5 - E Liquid Can Contain Cancer Causing Chemicals
But can it? Apart from nicotine there’s nothing in the 4 basic compounds of e liquid that are inherently bad for you. The headline making chemicals that have been discovered are found in particular flavours of e liquid.
For example, Diacetyl, which is the chemical sensationalised in the media for causing ‘popcorn lung’ has been found in certain e liquid flavours. Diacetyl is a natural by-product of fermentation, so can be found in butter, alcohol or anything else that is fermented. So when it comes to creating buttery flavours, or alcohol flavours then Diacetyl is often used in the process.
There was a fella who worked in a popcorn factory in the States who won a lawsuit stating his lung disease was caused by breathing in popcorn fumes, hence the name popcorn lung. So you could consider vaping any e liquid that contains Diacetyl a potential risk to your health.
Other chemicals that could carry a risk of cancer include Acetoin, Acetyl Propionyl and Formaldehyde. The problem is these are all by-products of flavouring.
The trouble the e liquid industry has at the moment is they’re reliant on food flavouring companies for the ingredients of their e liquids.
There has been reports of food flavouring companies claiming their products are Acetoin or Diacetyl free, when all they’ve done is changed a component of the compound. So effectively the risk is still there.
The truth of the matter is, if we’re going to vape e liquid, then we’re vaping chemicals and with that comes a certain amount of risk. The risks increase if you’re a heavy vaper, or if you vape at high temperatures, but as we’ve already covered, it’s much less of a risk than smoking tobacco.
6 - Vaping Can Give You A Rash
Some vapers have complained of a nasty rash after vaping, and it turns out that they may be allergic to Propylene Glycol, or the PG that makes up e liquid. Some research showed that in rare circumstances, for a small portion of the population, PG can cause dermatitis. So does vaping give you a rash? It can if you're allergic to PG!
7 - E Cigarettes Can Explode
At the end of the day an electronic cigarette is an electrical product, and with that comes certain risks. We’ve all seen the reports of e cigarettes exploding for no apparent reason. E cigarettes contain lithium ion batteries, which are the same type of batteries used in laptops and mobile phones. There have been lots of cases where mobile phones, or laptops have exploded but they don’t seem to make the same juicy headlines as an e cigarette.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association says that most of these incidents are cases of consumers using batteries or chargers not specifically intended for e-cigarettes.
“When used and charged properly, e-cigarettes pose no more of a fire risk than other products that use lithium ion batteries, and It’s a remote risk that is almost entirely avoidable.”
I’ve read a lot of news stories on e cigarettes over the years and it never ceases to amaze me how many people repeat stupid or crazy facts about vaping. Here are just a few:
8 - Vaping Can Give You Pneumonia (debunked)
Another thing that people have said iabout vaping, is that some users have complained of negative side effects such as coughs, or lung pains. One vaper even complained that vaping gave him pneumonia. The facts are that most of these things are purely coincidental, as according to Biomedcentral.com vaping is very likely to reduce the risk of pneumonia.
9 - Vaping Can Make You Sleepy
I’ve read a few forums where vapers have complained that vaping has made them sleepy. It turns out that this could be connect to the withdrawal symptoms of tobacco. In every case I’ve read the vaper has just switched over from smoking tobacco and some users have said it could be a withdrawal from one of the 7000+ chemicals found in cigarettes.
Other factors could be nicotine withdrawal, where they are actually ingesting less nicotine than they would have done, or the fact that they are taking long, deep puffs and the nicotine is acting as a kind of sedative. I’ve never experienced tiredness when vaping myself, but if you have, let me know in the comments.
10 - Vaping Can Make You Gag
Some vapers have complained that when they first started vaping it made them want to gag. Others have commented that this might be because the VG content in their juice is too high. Another reason could still be connected to quitting smoking. Some vapers have said they’ve developed a cough while vaping that they never had when they smoked. It’s quite common for people that have quit smoking to develop a cough, as the cough is actually a sign of the body healing. It could be just a coincidence that they are vaping at the same time as this process of healing is happening.
11 - Vaping Causes Dehydration
Some vapers have complained that vaping makes them dehydrated. This could be caused by the fact that PG in the e liquid attracts water. It’s this water that produces the clouds in the vapour, and it could be drawing water from your mouth. This could also be connected with vapers that complain of dry mouths and sore throats. The act of vaping may indeed give you a dry mouth, so drink plenty of water if you want to stay fully hydrated.
12 - Vaping Makes You Burp
As crazy as it sounds I’ve heard people complaining of this on forums. There’s no scientific reason why vaping can make you burp. Maybe it’s the way they inhale? I’ve never experienced it myself, but if you’ve burped while vaping please let me know.
13 - Vaping Makes You Hiccup
Again, I’ve never experienced this myself, but I've seen some vapers complain about it. The only reasonable explanation I’ve found is that some users have said it’s a sign they’ve ingested too much nicotine. Have you ever experienced hiccuping on a stronger nicotine juice? I can’t say I have.
So there you have it. There’s a lot of hysteria around vaping, a lot of disinformation and a lot of scaremongering. Throughout all of this the fact remains that smokers are much better off vaping than they are smoking. I’ve been vaping for over 5 years and I’m happy to say I’ve not experienced any unwanted burping, hiccuping, tiredness or gagging. But maybe that’s just me. How about you? Let me know in the comments if you’ve experienced any strange side effects of vaping, and you might just win a special prize.