Are electronic cigarette/electronic smoking alternatives harmful?
You're not alone if you've considered attempting to quit smoking. Almost seven out of ten smokers say they wish to quit smoking. Kicking the habit is one of the most beneficial traits for your health since smoking damages practically every organ in your body, notably your heart and lung. Smoking and passive smoking are responsible for about one-third of all heart disease fatalities135.
You may be tempted to use electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other non-disposable and disposal vaping devices like the iqos) to smooth the transition from regular cigarettes to quitting smoking entirely. But are electronic cigarettes (also known as vaping) healthier than tobacco products? Can e-cigarettes help you quit smoking for good? Are the health effects of electronic cigarettes as harmful as the ones of tobacco cigarettes?
Electronic cigarette smoking is rapidly gaining popularity and is quickly growing among teens, the wealthy, and the urban population all over the world. This article aims to highlight the risks of e-cigarette smoking to human health136.
Effects of Electronic cigarette smoking
The physiological consequences of electronic cigarette usage were studied in nine investigations. Electronic cigarettes are routinely promoted as 'harmless.' While the inhaled molecules connected with e-cigarettes may be less and less hazardous than those associated with regular cigarettes, research to determine whether e-cigarette usage as a whole is less dangerous to the individual user than traditional cigarettes is inconclusive. Studies have affirmed that such consumption can lead to the following:
- Mouth and throat discomfort and dry cough with first use, however, symptoms lessened with continued use.
- No change in heart rate, carbon monoxide (CO) level, or plasma nicotine level.
- Reduction in partial emitted nitric oxide (FeNO) and elevation in respiratory capacitance and respiratory flow resistance comparable to cigarette smoking.
- No change in complete blood count (CBC) indices.
- No change in lung function; and no change in cardiac function as evaluated by echocardiography137.
Chemical compounds in Electronic Smoking which cause side effects:
Electronic cigarettes' diverse chemical compounds and ultrafine particles cause irritation of the pharynx, upper and lower respiratory systems, and dry cough, and some research shows that it is hazardous and carcinogenic. Electronic cigarette fumes and mists containing glycol and glycerol are known to produce dry mucous membranes and upper airway irritation. Propylene glycol, a respiratory irritant, is commonly used as a propellant in e-cigarettes. The short-term pulmonary impact of e-cigarette vapor is comparable to that of cigarette smoke and is a cause of bronchial restriction138.
According to research, using electronic cigarettes daily can virtually quadruple the risk of having a heart attack according to an analysis of a survey of over 70,000 people. The study was headed by academics at UC San Francisco. According to research, the most prevalent usage pattern among e-cigarette users, the combined use of e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes, appears to be riskier than using either product alone. The study also discovered that smoking both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes on a daily basis increases the risk of heart attack fivefold when compared to persons who do not use either product139.
Because an electronic cigarette does not combust and release smoke like a traditional cigarette, it may be assumed that it does not induce passive smoking. However, research suggests otherwise. Schober et al conducted a study to investigate indoor pollution associated with e-cigarette use, and they discovered 7 poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, a high level of nicotine, propane-1-2-diol, glycerin, and aluminum, all of which are classified as carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Another research found that formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, isoprene, acetic acid, 2-butanedione, acetone, propanol, propylene glycol, diacetin (emitted from aromatizing additives), aromatic oils, and nicotine dispersed about from the vapor released into the environment during usage140.
Is vaping or smoking electronic cigarettes addictive?
Nicotine, an extremely potent chemical substance found in tobacco plants, is present in e-cigarette devices. When a person inhales the nicotine-laced vapor, the medication is promptly absorbed via the blood vessels lining the lungs. As per studies, nicotine may enter the brain in as little as 10 seconds. Nicotine alters the way the brain functions over time by raising dopamine release in the brain's reward circuits, causing an individual to seek too much of the drug. Furthermore, vape pens can be as compulsive, if not more so, than regular cigarettes. According to a recent study, most people who wanted to quit smoking ended up using both ordinary and e-cigarettes. According to another paper done in the National Library of Medicine (NLM)141.
Also check out our detailed comparasion between vaping vs smoking, here.
Can you consider using E-Cigarettes or Vaping as an NRT?
The FDA has not authorized e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. So far, research indicates that there is minimal evidence that e-cigarettes help smokers quit. There are alternative tried-and-true, risk-free, and efficient techniques for stopping smoking. Talking with your doctor, nurse, or a professional quit-line counselor about the best tactics for you is a good place to start. Many individuals use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) in the form of a patch or gum to quit smoking, which physicians and other professionals say is one of the most effective techniques smokers may take to quit142.
Thus far, it appears that the vaping craze is not as safe as one may expect. People with little awareness of the new innovation accepted the notion of vaping as a smoking alternative, assuming it would be less dangerous. The issue is that many of the items on the market are not FDA-regulated, which means they have not been thoroughly evaluated to see whether they are safe to enter one's body. To continue, it is possible that one does not understand how much to use or what constitutes a deadly amount. To develop a rationale and long-term strategy to control e-cigarette manufacture, marketing, and use, the long-term biological and physiological impact of these products must be dissected and analyzed. Long-term functional and toxicological research on specific organs will be required to further these findings. These should include side-by-side comparative studies against TC products, providing a solid scientific foundation to assist the FDA in regulating the manufacturing operations of e-cigarettes (including operational vaping variables and industry standards of the physical devices) and the permitted contents (descriptive and analytical parameters) of the e-liquids143.
It is unfortunate that, after so much study, people continue to favor vaping regardless of what the data shows. Of course, additional research is required to completely comprehend the full extent of the detrimental effects of breathing foreign compounds that look toxic. These toxins have an impact on everyone, from the prenatal baby to the elderly person who has decided to quit smoking. The chemicals cause mostly respiratory problems as well as cardiac problems due to nicotine's ability to vasoconstrict numerous arteries, and in certain cases, death. To summarize, these chemicals that are breathed are not being thoroughly evaluated and may have negative consequences on both the user and the non-user144.
- 135 https://www.fda.gov/tobacco-products/public-health-education/health-effects-tobacco-use
- 136 https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-020-09572-x
- 137 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24732161
- 138 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25487945
- 139 https://www.fhi.no/contentassets/4b2f92c4a2034eb5a7513e5a371c9524/20210901e-cig-report.pdf
- 140 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2452336416300188
- 141 https://www.addictioncenter.com/nicotine/vaping-addictive
- 142 https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vaping
- 143 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4993660
- 144 https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/vaping/vaping-ecigarette-health-risks-lung-heart