Vaping – is it really better than smoking?

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Photo by Koke Mayayo (TheVisualKiller) on Unsplash

Disclaimer: This article neither supports nor condemns the use of e-cigarettes.

There are over 40 countries that impose some sort of ban when it comes to vaping but for the most part, it’s legal. For countries like Singapore and Cambodia, it is completely illegal.

In many countries, there is a general consensus that vaping is definitely not harmless but is presented as significantly less harmful as compared to smoking. It is marketed as a good alternative to those who are looking to quit smoking, though the effectiveness of this is debatable.

What is Vaping?

The definition of vaping according to WebMD is, “It’s when you use a handheld tube, or tank, attached to a mouthpiece that makes a vapor you inhale. There are different types, such as vape pens, e-cigarettes, e-hookahs, and mods. But they all heat liquid chemicals (“e-juice”) into a mist you breathe in like a cigarette or pipe.”

Side Effects of Vaping

According to Vapingfacts, common side effects include:

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

“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.

So… is Vaping Better than Smoking?

Based on a Cochrane review of a study conducted to examine the effectiveness, tolerability, and safety of using electronic cigarettes (ECs) to help people who smoke tobacco achieve long‐term smoking abstinence, the key messages are:

“Nicotine e‐cigarettes probably do help people to stop smoking for at least six months.They probably work better than nicotine replacement therapy and nicotine‐free e‐cigarettes. They may work better than no support, or behavioural support alone, and they may not be associated with serious unwanted effects. However, we need more evidence to be confident about the effects of e‐cigarettes, particularly the effects of newer types of e‐cigarettes that have better nicotine delivery than older types of e‐cigarettes.”

Essentially, it is much too early to be certain of harmful long term side effects as e-cigarettes have not been around for long and not enough research has been conducted on it. With the limited research done thus far, it seems like a number of countries (including the UK and New Zealand), support the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation product.

On the contrary, the World Health Organization (WHO) released an executive summary of the WHO report on the global tobacco epidemic, 2021 that was published in July this year. The full report has 212 pages but for a quick overview of the key findings and conclusion of the report, you can refer to the executive summary that consists of 8 pages here. It highlights why they are against Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).

What’s your stand?

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