The official blog of the Lung Institute.
To Vape or Not To Vape
vape (verb): to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.
Think about the first time you heard the word vape. Was it just this year that Oxford added it to the dictionary? Was it when you tried to quit smoking for the fifth time? Vaping has taken modern society by storm. Marketed as one of the greatest methods of smoking cessation and as a healthy alternative to cigarettes, it is no wonder that people are turning to e-cigarette use. But is vaping a safe alternative? What does vaping really entail? There is a controversy rising over the use of e-cigarettes and vaping, and with an increasing popularity and profitability, the debate is likely to intensify.
What is an E-Cigarette?
An e-cigarette is a battery-operated appliance designed to be an alternative to the traditional, paper-rolled cigarette. They are often called electronic cigarettes, e-cigs or vaporizers. E-cigs are unique to the smoking world because they don’t actually produce smoke. Typically, an e-cigarette contains a liquid mix of propylene glycol, glycerin, added flavors and nicotine all of which is stored in a detachable cartridge. Making up the body of the electronic cigarette is the cartridge, the atomizer and the battery. So how does it all work? When a consumer sucks air through the end of the e-cig, the atomizer generates the heat needed to vaporize (hence vaping) the liquid in the cartridge. The vaporized liquid is then inhaled by the consumer to deliver the sensation of smoking. Knowing the basics of e-cigarette use are important for understanding the arguments offered by proponents and opponents of vaping.
Advantages of Vaping over Smoking
On an economic basis, the e-cigarette industry brings in approximately three billion dollars in sales a year. Given the profit, it is surprising that vaping is actually a cheaper alternative. Recent studies show that vaping is potentially up to 40 percent less costly than smoking. While looking at the financial comparisons of the two popular methods of nicotine consumption, traditional cigarettes require a continual contribution to the tobacco industry when repeatedly purchasing packs of cigarettes. On the other hand, e-cigarettes often require a hefty upfront payment for the actual apparatus followed by smaller payments for liquid refills and additional cartridges. An additional cost accompanies e-cigs if the user decides to use them for cannabis consumption rather than nicotine. Perhaps more importantly than the cost comparison of cigarettes, many people involved in the debate about e-cigarettes are focusing on the potential health benefits.
Possible Health Benefits of Vaping
Some studies are showing that the use of e-cigarettes as a tool for smoking cessation can potentially help smokers reduce their habit and eventually quit altogether. One study that took place in New Zealand compared the effectiveness of the use of e-cigarettes to the effectiveness of a nicotine patch. Aiding individuals on their journey to a smoke-free life is an excellent purpose, but adversaries question whether switching to vaping is really a beneficial alternative. While e-cigarettes produce far fewer carcinogens than traditional cigarettes, the carcinogen count is not zero. Additionally, the second-hand smoke effects are far less significant as smoke is not produced. Once again, the negative effects are not completely nonexistent, but they prove to be significantly less harmful. As a result, vaping is allowed in more environments due to their lack of pungent smell; since they are more socially acceptable, many venues allow e-cigarettes to be used indoors.
While e-cigarettes produce less odor, allowing their use indoors, many worry that, because of a greater acceptance of the use of e-cigs indoors, there will be a greater opportunity to consume nicotine in public. Without the barrier of smoke-free zones, people may have no reason to stop vaping. Nicotine is an addictive drug, and as nicotine alters the brain’s neurotransmitters, addictive cravings and behaviors result. As mentioned earlier, electronic cigarettes emit carcinogens. Of further concern is a concern that vaporizing liquid nicotine may release toxic metals.
The lack of regulation of e-cigarettes concerns many people. Currently, electronic cigarettes are not FDA-regulated. Since they are a relatively new product, little testing has been completed and there are no long-term studies completed to reveal long-term effects of vaping. The lack of regulation allows e-cigarette ads to reach children. Studies show that e-cigarette ads reach more than 50 percent of 12-17 year olds, which some say ultimately promotes smoking, nicotine consumption and addictive behaviors. Once an individual begins using e-cigarettes, people are worried that it could lead to traditional smoking and cannabis use. Given the ability to purchase cannabis cartridges for vaporizers, some believe e-cigarettes can act as a “gateway” to cannabis use, which , for now, remains illegal in most states.
Some see vaping as a better alternative to traditional cigarette smoking, but it isn’t true to say that vaping has no detrimental effects. Nicotine consumers must choose whether vaping is an acceptable alternative to quitting smoking.
Effects on Lung Disease
While vaping may help individuals quit smoking, once someone develops chronic lung disease such as COPD, emphysema or interstitial lung disease, inhaling anything other than clean air can lead to an exacerbation of lung disease.
If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of chronic lung disease, you have more options than ever. The Lung Institute offers stem cell treatments that can help you breathe easier. For more information, contact the Lung Institute online, or call (800) 729-3065.