I can’t help noticing the disparities in relation to vaping to quit smoking. Twitter is full of false information about e-cigarettes and vaping, some actually claiming people died through vaping but not mentioning EVALI.
What is EVALI?
In the summer of 2019, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began to investigate a steep rise in hospitalizations linked to the use of vaping products. The patients complained of a host of respiratory symptoms including shortness of breath, cough, and chest pain. They all shared one thing in common: They had used vaping products within the previous three months.
The condition came to be called “e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury,” or EVALI. By February 2020, the CDC had recorded over 2800 hospitalizations due to EVALI along with 68 deaths caused by the condition.
CDC Director’s Investment in Tobacco, Drug Companies Baffles Ethics Experts
It was a financial investment in a tobacco company that helped lead to the downfall of Brenda Fitzgerald, who until Wednesday was the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
For many in the public health community, the notion that the head of the CDC held shares of a company in an industry that has been so anathema to the agency’s mission was shocking.
But Fitzgerald also purchased shares in pharma giants Merck and Bayer after taking over the CDC—an apparent conflict of interest that also confounded government ethics experts.
This article is several years old but leaves me wondering if this still goes on.
Clearing up some myths
What does the CDC say about vaping?
Research suggests vaping is bad for your heart and lungs.
Nicotine is the primary agent in regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and it is highly addictive. It causes you to crave a smoke and suffer withdrawal symptoms if you ignore the craving. Nicotine is a toxic substance. It raises your blood pressure and spikes your adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and the likelihood of having a heart attack.
Is vaping bad for you?
There are many unknowns about vaping, including what chemicals make up the vapour and how they affect physical health over the long term. “People need to understand that e-cigarettes are potentially dangerous to your health,” says Blaha.
“Emerging data suggests links to chronic lung disease and asthma, as well as associations between dual use of e-cigarettes and smoking with cardiovascular disease. You’re exposing yourself to all kinds of chemicals that we don’t yet understand and that are probably not safe.”
Electronic cigarettes aren’t the best smoking cessation tool.
Although they’ve been promoted as an aid to help you quit smoking, e-cigarettes have not received Food and Drug Administration approval as smoking cessation devices. A recent study found that most people who intended to use e-cigarettes to kick the nicotine habit ended up continuing to use traditional and e-cigarettes.
In light of the EVALI outbreak, the CDC advises people who use e-cigarettes for smoking cessation to weigh the risks and benefits and first consider use of other FDA-approved smoking cessation options.
Is vaping really harmful to your lungs and heart?
The British Heart Foundation view on vaping
The BHF would not advise non-smokers to start vaping.
More research is needed on the long-term impact of vaping on your heart and blood vessels, and on how people can most effectively use e-cigarettes to quit.
A study from the University of Dundee, published in November 2019 and funded by the British Heart Foundation, suggests that vaping may be less harmful to your blood vessels than smoking cigarettes. Within just one month of switching tobacco for electronic cigarettes, measures of blood vessel health, including blood pressure and stiffness of their arteries, had started to improve. The study looked at 114 people who had smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day for at least two years. This is a relatively small number of people, and the study does not prove that vaping is completely safe.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This study suggests that vaping may be less harmful to your blood vessels than smoking cigarettes. Within just one month of ditching tobacco for electronic cigarettes, people’s blood vessel health had started to recover.
The British Lung Foundation
E-cigarettes are safer than tobacco and are effective as a tool to help smokers quit smoking.
Recent research has found that vaping instead of smoking tobacco leads to a lot less exposure to toxins that cause cancer, lung disease and cardiovascular disease.
There is also good evidence that e-cigarettes can help smokers quit and that they are slightly more effective than traditional NRT products. Stop smoking services should support people who want to quit this way.
Will vaping help me stop smoking?
Many thousands of people in the UK have already stopped smoking with the help of an e-cigarette. There’s evidence that they can be effective.
A 2021 review found people who used e-cigarettes to quit smoking, as well as having expert face-to-face support, can be up to twice as likely to succeed as people who used other nicotine replacement products, such as patches or gum.
Using an e-cigarette can help you manage your nicotine cravings. To get the best out of it, make sure you’re using it as much as you need to and with the right strength of nicotine in your e-liquid.
You will not get the full benefit from vaping unless you stop smoking cigarettes completely.
The Royal College of Physicians
Following reported deaths and disease in the US linked to vaping, there has been considerable public concern about the safety of vaping products and whether or not it is safe to continue vaping in the UK. RCP restates its position on vaping following these reports.
This briefing note outlines the current situation in the US, describes why the US is different to the UK, including the different products available and the different regulatory situation, the UK evidence so far and our continuing advice to current smokers that vaping is still far less harmful than smoking tobacco.
What does Public Health England say?
E-cigarettes are overwhelmingly used by ex-smokers and current smokers. It is estimated that there are over 3.6 million adults in Great Britain using e-cigarettes – 7.1% of the adult population. Of these e-cigarette users in 2021, 64.6% of current vapers were ex-smokers, while 30.5% also smoked (dual users).The proportion of adult smokers who have tried e-cigarettes has continued to grow, while those who have never tried continues to decline.
Vaping is far safer than smoking
Vaping an e-cigarette is much less harmful than smoking a tobacco cigarette because tobacco smoke is not inhaled. Most of the toxins in tobacco smoke are not found in the vapour of e-cigarettes and those that are present are at much lower levels – mostly below 1%
E-cigarettes are not completely safe. But compared to tobacco products, they are clearly the safer choice. For example, the lifetime cancer risk of vaping has been assessed to be under 0.5% of the risk of smoking.
Tobacco smoke versus vapour