Smoking & Electronic Cigarettes: What are the Key Health Differences

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Smoking was at one time encouraged. In some of the older films, you will see people smoking, it was sold to the population at the time as a good way to relax and be fashionable. It was advertised and tobacco companies sponsored many events. Smoking now is entirely different. It is not allowed in public places and people are increasingly shying away from the practice. Advertising is not allowed and displays of cigarettes in some countries are not allowed and those selling cigarettes have to do so from behind a closed cabinet. Taxes have significantly increased on tobacco and in some countries, smoking is cost prohibitive.

So what has changed?

The difference is in education and research. Tobacco smoke has been found to contain a number of very nasty chemicals including nicotine, formaldehyde, acetone, hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, toluene, ammonia, to name but a few of the thousands of chemicals found in tobacco smoke and if you consider that hydrogen cyanide is used in rat poison, it would be sensible to conclude that smoking is just not a good idea! Nicotine is however the commonly discussed chemical. Nicotine is additive and as much as 2mg of nicotine can be inhaled from each cigarette. Nicotine activates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, which provides the user with a ‘feel good factor’. You can find more about research and information through E Cig Brands and Reviews.

Smoking is both physically and psychologically addictive. Nicotine can be replaced in the form of patches etc and many who try to kick the habit turn to the patches. Smoking a cigarette however has usually become a part of the user’s life. When they have a coffee, they have a cigarette, when the eat a meal, they have a cigarette afterwards or when they socialise, smoking is part of that scene. It becomes difficult to break patterns and that is one reason why smoking is such a difficult habit to kick.

Cigarette smoking has been shown to cause disease and illness, costing health services a great deal of money and time. 90% of lung cancer deaths have been attributed to smoking in the US and many, many deaths per year have been attributed to secondhand cigarette smoke. As education has reached the ears of the public, people have stopped smoking in their homes and most will take care not to smoke in their cars or in and around their children. Deaths from smoking are preventable and sadly when a smoker begins the journey of smoking it is often a lifelong habit which becomes very difficult to break.

The following conditions are associated with cigarette smoking:

Lung Cancer and various other cancers

Stroke

Cataracts

Emphysema

Bronchitis

Heart Disease

Asthma

Low Birth Weight Babies

Diabetes

Arterial Damage

Rheumatoid Arthritis……to name but a few

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigs as they are commonly known have become popular in recent years and many initially turned to the e-cigarette as a means to help them kick their smoking habit. Many have claimed that it has been helpful in their aim. E-cigarettes contain a liquid, known as e-liquid which is made from nicotine, glycerine, propylene glycol and flavourings. The e-cigarette works by heating the liquid to create a vapour, which is inhaled. Smoking an e- cigarette is commonly referred to as vaping and there are various names given to the paraphernalia associated with vaping. Compared with cigarette smoking, there is no burning and therefore no smoke is created.

In addition to the population that use e-cigs as an alternative to smoking, there is a large swathe of the population that use e-cigs and have never smoked. Vaping has become popular to a point of epidemic in some areas but what are the health risks?

Firstly e-cigs contain nicotine, the same ingredient as cigarettes, which is why many cigarette smokers were able to turn to e-cigs to help them kick their habit. A study was able to show that the nicotine levels in the body were virtually the same in a smoker compared with an e-cig smoker, which is why it would have been considered a helpful way to quit smoking.

The majority of chemicals present in cigarettes are absent from e-cigs. As e-cigs are relatively new to the market, research has struggled to keep pace.

The long term health effects of e-cigs are still not widely understood and as evidence emerges from one study, the results are often negated by another group of researchers. The truth is that too little in known about the practice, it is too new and time will be the test.

A study reported that vaping can cause popcorn lung especially amongst those who use the flavoured varieties of e-cigarettes. The chemical known as diacetyl, a chemical which was contained in popcorn, hence the name popcorn lung, is thought to be responsible. Diacetyl is contained in a wide variety of the flavoured e-cigarettes. Popcorn lung causes lung tissue to scar and narrow, leading to breathing difficulties, it is irreversible.  This study however faced criticism and the findings were not accepted by other researchers. Some countries stated that their e-liquids do not contain this chemical and others argued that it was not present in any sufficient amount to cause any damage.

The truth is, vaping has just not been around for long enough to have the detailed studies. Studies are in their infancy and some have also reported concerns around immune system damage and damage to the DNA but again the studies have been criticised, some having taken place under laboratory conditions.

Tobacco is widely known to cause many serious long term conditions, whereas there is no real evidence to suggest that e-cigs cause that kind of harm. In fact, government departments in some countries are considering offering the e-cig on prescription as evidence points to the fact that it can help those wanting to stop smoking, hence saving lives and money for public health services.

It is up to the consumer to decide, study the ‘evidence’ available and draw your own conclusion but research so far shows that e-cigarettes ar far less harmful than smoking.

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