Vaping has taken the world by storm, emerging as a popular and less harmful alternative to tobacco smoking. However, with its rise in popularity, a slew of myths and misconceptions have also surfaced.
In this blog, we’ll dive deep into vaping myths and explore the science behind them.
1. Vaping is Just as Harmful as Smoking
The truth: Multiple studies have shown that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes. The primary reason is that vapes do not burn tobacco, which means users aren’t inhaling the harmful tar and carcinogens that are found in tobacco products.
Traditional cigarettes rely on the combustion of tobacco, which produces tar and releases over 7,000 chemicals, of which hundreds are toxic and about 70 can cause cancer. Vaping, on the other hand, involves heating an e-liquid to produce a vapour. This process doesn’t produce tar or many of the harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke.
Public Health England, has also stated that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking. However, it’s essential to understand the term “harm reduction” here. It doesn’t mean vaping is risk-free, but when compared to the known harms of smoking, it’s a significantly less harmful alternative.
2. Vapes Produce Water Vapour
The truth: Contrary to popular belief, vapes do not produce water vapour. Instead, they produce a vapour made up of tiny droplets containing nicotine, flavourings, and other chemicals like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin.
When heated, these ingredients create the vapour that vapers inhale and exhale. While these ingredients are generally recognised as safe for oral consumption, the health effects of inhaling them, especially over the long term, are still being researched.
3. Vaping Doesn’t Contain Nicotine
The truth: Most e-liquids used in vaping devices contain nicotine, which is the addictive substance found in tobacco products. Nicotine is added to e-liquids to help smokers transition from traditional cigarettes to vaping.
The idea is that smokers can start with a higher nicotine concentration and gradually reduce their nicotine intake by choosing e-liquids with lower concentrations over time, potentially even reaching zero nicotine.
While it is possible to vape without consuming nicotine, assuming that all vaping products are nicotine-free is a misconception. It’s crucial for users to be informed about the contents of their chosen e-liquids and to make decisions based on their health needs and preferences.
4. Vaping is a Proven Gateway to Smoking for Teens
The truth: The relationship between teen vaping and subsequent smoking is complex and not fully understood. Some studies suggest that teens who vape are more likely to try traditional cigarettes. However, it’s unclear whether vaping causes this progression or if individuals predisposed to vaping are also more likely to experiment with smoking.
While concerns about vaping as a gateway to smoking are valid, it’s also worth noting that teen smoking rates have been on a decline in many countries where vaping has become popular. If vaping were a significant gateway to smoking, one might expect to see a consistent rise in teen smoking rates alongside vaping’s rise, but this hasn’t been universally observed.
5: Secondhand Exposure to Vape Vapour is Harmless The Truth
The truth: While secondhand exposure to vape vapour is perceived to be less harmful than secondhand cigarette smoke, it’s not entirely risk-free. The vapour from e-cigarettes contains nicotine and other chemicals, which can pose risks to bystanders, especially in enclosed spaces.
Due to the potential risks associated with secondhand exposure to vape vapour, many public health organisations recommend treating vapes similarly to traditional cigarettes when it comes to regulations, i.e.) banning indoor use and posing vaping restrictions.
6: Vaping is Not Effective for Quitting Smoking
The truth: One of the primary reasons smokers struggle to quit is nicotine addiction. Vapes allow users to control their nicotine intake, potentially reducing it over time. This controlled reduction can ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making the transition away from traditional cigarettes smoother.
Many tobacco smokers have successfully transitioned away from traditional cigarettes using vapes. Some studies suggest that vaping can be an effective tool for smoking cessation, especially when combined with behavioural support. However, individual experiences can vary, and what works for one person might not work for another.
7. Vaping Causes Popcorn Lung
The Truth: The term “popcorn lung” refers to a condition known as bronchiolitis obliterans, which was first identified in workers at a microwave popcorn plant due to their exposure to a chemical called diacetyl. This chemical was used to create a buttery flavour in popcorn. Some early e-liquids used diacetyl as a flavouring agent, leading to concerns about the risk of “popcorn lung” from vaping.
However, all reputable e-liquid manufacturers have since eliminated diacetyl from their products, especially after these concerns became public. It’s also worth noting that while diacetyl was found in higher concentrations in some e-liquids, traditional cigarette smoke contains levels of diacetyl many times higher, yet smoking is not directly linked to “popcorn lung” in these products. Moreover, in the UK, the use of diacetyl in e-liquids is banned and considered illegal, ensuring a higher level of safety and quality in the products available in the market.
It’s essential to approach the topic of vaping with a nuanced perspective, understanding that while there are potential risks, many of the fears surrounding vaping are based on myths or misunderstandings. Always rely on science-backed information and research when making decisions related to vaping.
By debunking common vaping myths, we can foster a more informed conversation about vaping, its risks, and its potential benefits. As with any evolving field, it’s crucial to stay updated with the latest research and findings to make informed decisions.