NHS England and latest studies have shown vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco.
What are the health benefits of quitting smoking?
Smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK.
Every year around 78,000 people in the UK die from smoking, with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses.
Smoking increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions.
Some may be fatal, and others can cause irreversible long-term damage to your health.
Smoking causes around 7 out of every 10 cases of lung cancer (70%).
It also causes cancer in many other parts of the body.
Smoking damages your heart and your blood circulation.
Smoking also damages your lungs, leading to conditions such as, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which incorporates bronchitis and emphysema and pneumonia.
Can quitting smoking improve your mental health?
Smoking may make you feel like you are more relaxed, but smoking interferes with certain chemicals in the brain. They can make you more irritable and anxious when you crave another cigarette.
Smoking a cigarette can temporarily relieve these feelings. Many people believe this means smoking improves mood. But it’s likely smoking that caused the negative feelings to begin with.
In the first few weeks after stopping smoking, you could feel more irritable, struggle to concentrate or feel restless.
But studies have shown that you aren’t likely to experience a worsening in your mood long‐term. You may experience improvements, such as less anxiety and depression symptoms.
Smoking prevalence among people with a mental health condition is substantially higher than in the general population. Since the mid-1990s, smoking in the general population in England has fallen from around 27% to around 14.9% by 2017. In contrast, the latest Public Health England data shows that 40.5% of adults with a serious mental health illness (SMI) smoke a figure which has remained steady over the past 20 years.
People with mental health conditions die on average 10-20 years earlier than the general population. This is not due to increased suicide rates but a result of a number of socio-economic and healthcare factors. Smoking is the single largest contributor to reduced life expectancy. The rates of cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases among people with schizophrenia, who have the highest rates of smoking of any group, are up to double those of age-matched controls.
Tobacco smoke interacts with some psychiatric medication making it less effective, resulting in increased dosages and more side effects associated with these drugs. As such, smokers on these medications who reduce their tobacco consumption can expect to be prescribed lower doses.
Given that half of all long-term smokers will die of a smoking related illness, it is unsurprising that there are high levels of smoking-related mortality amongst those with a mental health condition.
In addition to the health impact of smoking, there are considerable economic costs arising from smoking in people with mental health conditions. The NHS spends approximately £720m per annum in primary and secondary care treating smoking-related disease in people with mental health conditions. These costs arise from an annual estimated 2.6 million avoidable hospital admissions, 3.1 million GP consultations and 18.8 million prescriptions. Most of these service costs arise from people diagnosed with anxiety and/or depression.
Despite overwhelming evidence about the dangers of tobacco use, many mental health professionals have reported feeling reluctant to engage with patients about smoking and/or having low expectations of patients’ motivation or ability to stop smoking. This is likely to have a direct impact on service users, as advice from health professionals has been shown to be an important driver in quit attempts among all smokers. However, more recently there is some evidence that attitudes are beginning to change. A 2011 study found that 89% of mental health staff thought that addressing patients’ smoking would not have an adverse effect on the therapeutic relationship and 81% did not believe quitting smoking would have a negative impact on patients’ recovery. Staff who smoked was more likely to have reservations about the importance of the smoke-free policy and the treatment of nicotine dependence among patients. (Source: ASH)
Can switching from smoking to vaping help with COPD sufferers?
Researchers at the Centre of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction (CoEHAR*) in Catania, Italy have just published a ground-breaking study. It shows that smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who switched to vaping reduced their yearly flare-ups by about 50 percent, significantly improved their cardio-respiratory health, and increased both their ability to exercise and their quality of life.
The study, led by CoEHAR founder Dr. Riccardo Polosa, is vitally important because COPD, to which emphysema and chronic bronchitis commonly contribute, is devastating. It makes breathing difficult and causes symptoms of wheezing, fatigue, shortness of breath, and a chronic cough. Many patients end up on long-term, portable oxygen therapy as symptoms worsen. Smoking tobacco is the main cause of COPD and almost 15.7 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease.
The study compiled complete data over a five-year period for 39 participants—19 in the COPD smokers control group and 20 in the COPD e-cigarette user group. The vaping group used a variety of e-cigarettes, with a significant number switching from basic refillable e-cigs to more advanced devices during the study period.
The six-minute walk distance (6MWD) is one way to assess patients’ ability to conduct everyday activities. At five years from baseline, the 6MWD improved by a median of 66.5 meters in e-cigarette users, whereas it increased by a median of only 20 meters in the smoker control group.
The study also reported “significant and constant improvements in lung function [and] CAT scores” (a health questionnaire used for COPD patients) in the vaping group compared with the control group over the five years.
E-cigarettes can be a massive remedy for COPD and this is important for physicians, patients and their caregivers.
Another important finding is that only four vapers, or 16.7 percent of those in the larger, baseline study cohort, returned to cigarette smoking over the duration of the study (data for these four individuals were excluded from the vaping-only group findings). This indicates that vaping nicotine is a powerful prevention tool, contributing to long-term abstinence from smoking.
“The most important finding of the study is that COPD patients can abstain from smoking cigarettes indefinitely if suitable substitution is available,” Dr. Polosa told Filter. “E-cigarettes can be a massive remedy for COPD and this is important for physicians, patients and their caregivers. The study confirms that ‘harm reversal’ is achievable and that it can be maintained for years. We are telling the world that substantial health gains are within reach when substituting deadly tobacco cigarettes for vaping products.”
Can switching from smoking to vaping help heart disease?
Smokers who make the change to e-cigarettes will reduce their risk of developing heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases by 30-40%, according to a new study.
This exciting evidence proves that vaping is better for the cardiovascular system compared to smoking and shows that making the change from cigarettes to e-cigs will lower chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
Cardiovascular Effects of Switching From Tobacco Cigarettes to Electronic Cigarettes
Another study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2019 came to a similar conclusion.
The research was carried out by a team of scientists at the University of Dundee, titled “Cardiovascular Effects of Switching From Tobacco Cigarettes to Electronic Cigarettes”, and concluded that switching to vaping could lower the chances of heart attack or stroke in a matter of weeks.
The study looked specifically at heavy smokers – people who had been going through at least 15 cigarettes a day for the past two years. They were told to stop smoking cigarettes and use nicotine e-cigarettes instead, with their cardiovascular health monitored closely.
After four weeks, the results showed a huge improvement in cardiovascular function, meaning the chances of having a heart attack or stroke were greatly reduced when people switched smoking for vaping.
There are lots of myths around vaping including popcorn lung, where there has been zero deaths reported in the UK.
Despite the sometimes confused, and confusing, media reporting around the safety of e-cigarettes, there is growing consensus around the evidence. While not without some risk, when compared to smoking e-cigarettes are far less harmful.
This view is supported by a number of key bodies, including Cancer Research UK, Action on Smoking and Health, the Royal College of Physicians, the British Medical Association and recently, a major US science body, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Of course tobacco lobbying companies and big pharma are responsible for a lot of misleading information as it is not in there interest.