WITH a British teenager having suffered a severe allergic reaction to vaping, users fear the alternative to cigarettes could carry hidden dangers.
But while a German professor warned that e-cigs might harm the brain, lungs, heart and blood vessels, the extent of the risk remains unclear. Here, British expert Professor PETER HAJEK answers the big questions.
ISN’T vaping supposed to be safer than smoking?
Yes, vaping is much less dangerous than smoking tobacco. For smokers who switch to vaping, they will remove the risks to their health by a factor of 95 per cent. The risk of cancer, heart disease and lung disease can be expected to be substantially reduced, too.The current estimate is that vaping poses less than five per cent of the risks of smoking cigarettes.
CAN vaping kill you?
There have been no deaths from vaping nicotine e-cigarettes of the type used in the UK.
WHAT about the case of teen Ewan Fisher, from Nottingham, whose lungs were affected by vaping?
It looks like this case might have been the result of a rare allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in an e-cigarette. There are 3.6million vapers in the UK and this is the first such case.
WHAT about reports of deaths in the United States?
The outbreak of lung injury in America is due to contaminants in illegally-produced marijuana/THC cartridges.
This has nothing to do with the type of e-cigarettes that are used by smokers in the UK.
SHOULD vapers be worried about the report by Prof Thomas Munzel in Mainz, Germany, which claims that vaping can harm the brain, heart, lungs and blood vessels?
This report found two things. In humans, nicotine from e-cigarettes produced a typical short-term stimulant effect, also seen after drinking coffee, that on its own signals no danger. In mice and in tissue samples, acrolein – a chemical that can be generated when e-liquid is fried – had more damaging effects. This, however, is not relevant for human vapers.
DOES vaping pose no risk?
There is likely to be some risk from vaping. But the data we have so far is only from people who have vaped for two or three years and this raised no serious health concerns.
IS vaping addictive?
Vaping seems to satisfy smokers who are already used to nicotine, but it does not appear to be very appealing or addictive for non-smokers. It is rare for non- smokers to go on to become daily vapers.
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WHY isn’t vaping as addictive as smoking?
Nicotine is highly addictive when it is combined with other chemicals in tobacco. It is not very addictive in the form of nicotine replacement treatments, such as nicotine chewing gum or nicotine inhalator, or in e-cigarettes in their current form.
CAN vaping help smokers to quit cigarettes?
There is clear evidence that vaping helps smokers give up.
- PROFESSOR Peter Hajek is director of the Health and Lifestyle Research Unit at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine in London
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