Can E-Cigs Cause More Harm Than Good? Part I

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Quitting smoking may be one of the most challenging things a long-time smoker can do. Electronic cigarettes, invented in Beijing in 2003, have become a tool that many former smokers believe helped them quit smoking. Of course, as a new tool, people wonder about the risks of using electronic cigarettes, which has spiraled into huge debates regarding the safety of e-cigs and their true ability to help smokers quit. This has led to a bit of fear and uncertainty among smokers considering making the switch to vaping, which has in turn raised a ton of questions regarding whether or not there are any positive benefits. We’re here to answer those questions in an effort to help smokers feel confident that they are making an informed decision when making the switching to vaping. 

Do Electronic Cigarettes Really Work to Reduce Smoking?

Do e-cigs help smokers quit?

According to a 2012 study conducted at London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, 65 percent of those who were using an electronic cigarette each day made a serious attempt to stop smoking within the year. Just 44 percent of those in the study who did not use electronic cigarettes made such an attempt. So, it is easy to conclude that the electronic cigarettes can play a part in helping people quit smoking.

Fast-forward to 2015, when a health organization in England pieced together the reasons behind the dramatic decline in smoking rates over the last 6 years. After completing a full evidence-based review on e-cigs, Public Health England (PHE) concluded that “E-cigarettes are around 95% safer than smoked tobacco and they can help smokers to quit.” As a result, England is now moving forward with endorsing e-cigs as cessation devices, while the US lags behind with continued debates over whether they help smokers quit, despite the fact that the US has also seen a significant decline in smoking rates that falls right in line with the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes.

Related: Smoking Rates Decline as E-Cig Use Increases

Are Electronic Cigarettes Safe?

Are electronic cigarettes safe?

As noted by PHE’s evidence-based review on e-cigs, there is evidence indicating that electronic cigarettes are safer than regular cigarettes. Traditional cigarettes emit many dangerous chemicals as they burn. In fact, the smoke from traditional cigarettes contains 40 known carcinogens and as many as 10,000 chemicals. In contrast, electronic cigarettes, which do not burn, give off a very small amount of chemicals and carcinogens and usually contain less than a handful of e-liquid ingredients. Study after study has confirmed that, not only do e-cigs contain a mere fraction of the harmful chemicals found in tobacco cigarettes, but have also concluded that that e-cig vapor may be as harmless as ambient air–both to the vaper and bystanders.

Related: The Harmful Chemicals in Cigarette Tobacco

Can Electronic Cigarettes Explode?

Can electronic cigarettes explode?

This question has come about from an increase in reports regarding exploding e-cigs. While it is possible for certain types of vaping devices (namely those powered by lithium-ion batteries) to catch fire and/or explode, such incidents are usually caused by improper use of the device and are almost always preventable. This is why it is vital for new e-cig users to familiarize themselves with the inner workings of electronic cigarettes and follow the do’s and don’ts of vaping safely.

Are There Any Health Benefits of Switching to Electronic Cigarettes?

Are there any possible health benefits of switching from smoking to vaping?

It is a known fact that traditional cigarettes can have negative impacts on the lungs and heart, and as a result, scientists and researchers have been scrambling to determine whether or not e-cigs can impose the same negative impacts. A study conducted by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos at the University of Athens in Greece, compared the way smokers’ blood pressure and heart rate responded to traditional cigarette smoke versus electronic cigarettes. Heart rate and blood pressure increased drastically when smokers used traditional cigarettes. When using electronic cigarettes, on the other hand, there was only a slight rise in blood pressure and a negligible rise in the heart rate.

A newer study published in Internal and Emergency Medicine also looked into the correlation between smoking and high blood pressure with a very positive conclusion for electronic cigarettes. The participants in the study included smokers who were given electronic cigarettes and agreed to routine blood pressure checks over the course of a year. Not only did some of the participants give up smoking for vaping, some also experienced a reduction in high blood pressure. The results of this study led the authors to conclude, “Smokers who reduce or quit smoking by switching to e-cigarettes may lower their systolic BP in the long term.”

Related: Replacing Tobacco with E-Cigs May Improve Cardiovascular Health

Are There Any Side Effects of Vapor Cigarettes?

New e-cig users may experience a few side effects when first making the switch from smoking to vaping. The good news is: the side effects of vapor cigarettes are mild compared to the side effects of tobacco cigarettes and usually disappear once the user has become accustomed to vaping. Check out Part 2 of this series to learn more about the side effects of vapor cigarettes.