Monday, December 9, 2019
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Vaping Facts

Image by Ethan Parsa from Pixabay

There are lots of different opinions and beliefs about vaping. Some say it’s as bad as smoking, others say it helps with quitting smoking. It’s actually somewhere in the middle: vaping is not for non-smokers, but it has the potential to help smokers quit.

Breathing any product into your lungs unnecessarily is not ideal, and that’s why non-smokers should not vape. However, for those who smoke, switching to vaping is likely to substantially reduce health risks.

There is now general agreement that electronic cigarette use exposes the user to fewer toxicants than smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation, Cochrane review 2016

In general, smokers who switch to vaping reduce their exposure to a wide range of toxic substances. For more detail, view the Evidence Review of E-cigarettes and Heated Tobacco Products 2018, a report commissioned by Public Health England.

There are safety risks to any electronic device. Learn about vaping safety

What we don’t know

The risks associated with long-term vaping are unknown. While vaping is less harmful than smoking it is unlikely to be totally harm free. Ideally, smokers who are vaping to quit should look to eventually stop vaping too. Scientists will not be certain for many years of any health risks associated with vaping. The Ministry of Health has a role in continuing to monitor the risk.

We don’t know what is in all vaping e-liquids, as there are no safety standards in New Zealand yet for vaping products.

Comparative risks of cardiovascular disease and lung disease have not been quantified but are likely to be also substantially below the risks of smoking.

Evidence Review of E-cigarettes and Heated Tobacco Products 2018, a report commissioned by Public Health England

Risk of cancer

The current estimate is, if vaping is found to be associated with cancer, the risk will only be a tiny fraction of the risks of smoking.

Does vaping cause cancer? Read the research

Effect on others

There is currently no evidence that second-hand vapour is harmful to the health of by-standers. There is concern about youth taking up vaping.

How does vaping affect others? Learn the impacts

Popcorn lung

Reputable e-liquid manufacturers no longer use diacetyl to create buttery flavours, after discovering its effect on popcorn factory workers.

Side Effects of Vaping

Coughing, dry throat, headaches

The most common side effects of vaping include:

  • coughing
  • dry mouth and throat
  • shortness of breath
  • mouth and throat irritation
  • headaches.

These side effects are associated with inhaling the vapour and are also associated with smoking.

Of the included studies, none reported serious adverse events considered related to vaping use. The most frequently reported adverse events were mouth and throat irritation, most commonly dissipating over time.

Electronic Cigarettes for Smoking Cessation, Cochrane review, 2016

Addiction

Nicotine is addictive and is present in some e-liquids. Nicotine itself is not very harmful to adults, but the other things inhaled along with the nicotine may be.

Read about nicotine and vaping

Long-term

Aside from the immediate side effects of vaping, there may be risks associated with vaping long-term however these are not yet known.

Vaping & Pregnancy

Non-smokers
If you don’t smoke, don’t vape while pregnant.

Smokers
Vaping is not harmless, but is likely to be less harmful than smoking while pregnant.

Nicotine is a relatively harmless drug for adults who smoke. However, it is potentially harmful to unborn babies, newborns and children. It is best to be nicotine free when pregnant.

Quitting smoking
The best thing for the health of you and your baby is to quit smoking. Seek support and advice through your local stop smoking service, doctor, midwife or Quitline, and talk to others who have successfully quit.

It can be difficult to quit smoking. For pregnant women who are struggling to become tobacco free, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) should be considered. For information about the risks and benefits of vaping to quit smoking, talk to your doctor, midwife or stop smoking service.

The only time I did give up was when I was pregnant with my baby. The taste and the smell of it, I could taste the chemicals.

Vaping vs Smoking

The difference between smoking and vaping is that smoking delivers nicotine by burning tobacco, which can cause smoking-related illnesses, and vaping can deliver nicotine by heating a liquid in a much less harmful way.

Harm
Smoking is bad for your health as the toxins produced by burning tobacco cause smoking-related illnesses. The majority of health benefits are seen when you stop smoking completely. Some people find cutting down as a helpful step to quitting, but stopping smoking completely should be the end goal.

Relative harm
Smoking is bad for your health as the toxins produced by burning tobacco cause smoking-related illnesses. The majority of health benefits are seen when you stop smoking completely. Some people find cutting down as a helpful step to quitting, but stopping smoking completely should be the end goal.

Vaping is not harmless, but it is much less harmful than smoking. The healthiest option is not to vape or smoke. Don’t vape if you don’t smoke. Only vape to quit smoking.

Fact check
‘There is now general agreement that vaping use exposes the user to fewer toxicants than smoking tobacco cigarettes.’ (McNeill 2015; RCP 2016. Cochrane Review.)

Nicotine

Smoking and vaping both deliver nicotine. The difference is cigarettes deliver it by burning tobacco, which creates many harmful toxins. Vaping delivers nicotine in e-liquid, which is a much less harmful way.

In smoking, the amount of nicotine in cigarettes is generally fixed, and how much you get depends on how you smoke. In vaping, the amount of nicotine depends on the strength of e-liquid you choose, and how you vape.

The healthiest option is not to vape or smoke. Don’t vape if you don’t smoke. Only vape to quit smoking.

Feel

Vaping is not smoking, but some people find vaping works to help them quit because it offers experiences similar to smoking a cigarette. Vaping has a similar hand-to-mouth action as smoking, and it can also be social.

The best option is not to vape or smoke. Don’t vape if you don’t smoke. Only vape to quit smoking.

‘Vaping provides sensations similar to smoking a cigarette. They provide taste and throat sensations that are close to smoking.’ (Cochrane report.)

Cost

Aside from the initial $40-$60 approximate setup cost, vaping costs much less than smoking. Twenty cigarettes per day can add up to $9,000 a year. Vaping can cost $900 a year. Try the cost calculator to make more comparisons.

The cheapest option is not to vape or smoke. Don’t vape if you don’t smoke. Only vape to quit smoking.

Fact Check

‘The lower cost of e-cigarettes, as well as their ability to help respondents quit or reduce smoking, were also common reasons cited for usage.’ (Ministry of Health Evaluation of the Tobacco Excise Increases as a Contributor to Smokefree 2025, final report 2018)

‘Oh, yeah (I vape) hard out for health reasons, but also it is just so expensive to smoke’ (Exploring Why Young Māori Women Smoke, Ministry of Health, 2017)

Vaping to Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking can be tough. Vaping is a way to quit cigarettes by getting nicotine with fewer of the toxins that come from burning tobacco. You get to stay social, spend less, and once you’ve quit smoking you’ll feel better for it.

Although vaping’s much less harmful than smoking, it’s not harmless. So you should plan to eventually quit vaping too, but only when you know you won’t go back to smoking.

For more information, please visit the Vaping Facts website.

All information provided in this article is © Ministry of Health — Manatū Hauora and the Health Promotion Agency/Te Hiringa Hauora.

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