| Andy Staples
One of the biggest reasons many people turn to vaping is in order to quit smoking. It is widely believed that it is far less detrimental to your health - but is vaping healthier than smoking cigarettes? In this article, we will be discussing the facts and evidence to determine how much healthier vaping really is.
From the health risks of smoking to the most effective ways to quit, find out more in our blog.
What Are the Health Risks of Smoking?
It’s no secret that smoking poses a huge number of health risks. However, the severity of these risks is often underestimated by those who are addicted to cigarettes.
The health risks of smoking are actually the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, killing around 80,000 people per year. It’s estimated that 50% of all smokers will die from a smoking-related disease.
Risk to Heart and Blood Health
Cigarettes contain tar, an extremely dangerous substance used for making roads (definitely not something you want to be inhaling!). When you smoke, the poisons from the tar enter your bloodstream, which can lead to the blood thickening, increasing blood pressure and heart rate, and narrowing the arteries.
This all increases your chances of having a heart attack or a stroke. Additionally, carbon monoxide from cigarettes puts a further strain on the heart by making it work faster, which can lead to the development of blood clots. This doubles your risk of a heart attack.
Risk to Lung Health
Perhaps one of the most detrimental health risks of smoking is damage to your lungs. Smoking cigarettes can cause pneumonia, lung cancer, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).
In fact, it causes 84% of deaths caused by lung cancer. COPD is a collection of lung diseases, with symptoms such as difficulty breathing, a persistent cough, and chest infections. It is often referred to as ‘smokers cough’ - but it is not just a cough. These symptoms will worsen over time if the sufferer continues to smoke.
Risk to Brain Health
Smoking increases the chance of developing a brain aneurysm. If a brain aneurysm bursts, it might lead to a serious stroke that can cause severe brain damage, or even death.
Risk to Stomach Health
Cigarettes can increase the risk of developing stomach cancer or stomach ulcers. This is because the harmful poisons found in cigarettes weaken the oesophagus, leading to acid reflux. Additionally, smoking increases the risk of developing kidney cancer.
Risk to Mouth and Throat Health
93% of throat cancer cases in the UK are caused by smoking. Smokers are also more likely to develop bad breath, stained teeth, gum disease, and oral thrush.
Risk to Fertility
Smoking causes male impotence, as it damages the blood vessels that supply blood to the penis, as well as damaging sperm. It is reported that 120,000 men in the UK in their 20s and 30s are impotent because of smoking.
In addition, it can cause testicular cancer. In women, smoking can reduce fertility and cause cervical cancer.
Risk to Skin Health
Smokers are likely to age visibly far more quickly than non-smokers, as well as their skin becoming grey and dull. Smoking prematurely is said to age the skin by 10 to 20 years.
Information sourced from the NHS.
What Are The Health Risks of Vaping?
We've discussed the many health risks associated with smoking, but what are the health risks of vaping?
It’s safe to say that switching from smoking to vaping benefits your health in a number of ways, but it's still important to cover the potential risks that you might face when using an e-cigarette.
Firstly, nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Although nicotine is not damaging to health in itself, developing an addiction can be harmful. If you start vaping a nicotine e-cigarette when you did not smoke previously, it could increase the likelihood that you will begin smoking traditional cigarettes. This risk is especially apparent in teenagers and young people.
Secondly, there have been a few reports of e-cigarettes catching fire or causing burns due to defective batteries. In order to avoid this, you must ensure you only buy e-cigarette devices from reputable retailers. Only use the charger provided with your device, and never leave your device on charge overnight.
Accidental consumption of e-liquid (i.e., drinking it rather than vaping it) has caused nicotine poisoning in both children and adults. It is now illegal to sell e-liquids containing nicotine in a bottle any larger than 10ml. Despite this new law, always ensure you keep all e-liquid bottles out of the reach of children.
Among other smoking to vaping side effects, it has also been reported that vaping during pregnancy could cause harm to the foetus. Although this harm would be far less than detrimental than if you were to smoke during pregnancy, you should still never use an e-cigarette whilst pregnant.
One of the most controversial health risks recently linked to vaping is lung disease. In the USA, nearly 200 people who used e-cigarettes have developed lung disease, however, it is unclear whether vaping was truly the cause. It is thought that it was actually due to an allergic or immune reaction to the chemicals in certain e-liquid vapours. This issue is currently being investigated.
Is Vaping an Effective Way to Quit Smoking?
A set of research supported by the NHS and funded by Cancer Research UK studied the effects of e-cigarettes and NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) on smokers.
They conducted research into current smokers, ex-smokers using NRT, and ex-smokers using e-cigarettes. They found that there were significantly lower levels of cancer caused by chemicals in those using NRT or e-cigarettes.
They also found that ex-smokers using e-cigarettes had lower levels of the toxic chemical NNAL than all other groups. This was a 97% reduction compared to the smokers.
E-cigarettes can provide an excellent way to manage your nicotine cravings, whilst also providing an inhale-exhale sensation that is similar to a traditional cigarette. In order to be successful in quitting, you must ensure you are vaping a strong enough e-liquid, and that you have stopped smoking cigarettes completely.
Thousands of people in the UK have quit smoking thanks to e-cigarettes. The NHS have reported that you are twice as likely to successfully quit using an e-cigarette over NRT methods, such as nicotine patches or gum.
How to Switch From Smoking to Vaping
We can safely conclude that vaping is much healthier than smoking, but when it comes to how to switch from smoking to vaping, you should always be sensible.
Young people should not vape. This is currently regulated by laws, but should also be consistently enforced by parents and guardians. You should not vape during pregnancy, and you should keep your e-liquids and devices away from children at all times.
The British Heart Foundation recommends that you should not take up vaping unless you are trying to quit smoking. And if you do choose to do this, you must stop smoking cigarettes completely.
The NHS say that vaping is estimated to be at least 95% less harmful than smoking. So… vape on!
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