Is vaping safe? The British Heart Foundation breaks it down

Published by Paul Larter on 20th Nov 2019

Everyone is talking about E-cigarettes as they make the news headline almost every day. Here, we’d look at the pros and cons of vaping as analyzed by Lucy Trevallion.

Also known as vaporizers, electronic cigarettes are powered by battery as the name implies. However, they mimic the conventional smoking action providing nicotine but, unlike tobacco smoke, they do not have any toxic effect. Electronic cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular ever since their advent in the UK in 2007.

Although many people are now using e-cigarettes, they are not without any side effects. There are suggestions backed up by findings that emissions in the vapor contain some harmful substances such as irritants and carcinogens. However, the levels of these substances are relatively low compared to conventional cigarettes. Public Health England (PHE), in 2018, confirmed that e-cigarettes are 95 % less harmful than conventional cigarettes.

An Associate Medical Director at the BHF, Dr. Mike Knapton, has suggested that e-cigarettes are a better alternative to reduce the harmful effects of smoking, and also to quit smoking.

Statistics released by NHS show that about 6.3 % of the adult population in Great Britain use e-cigarettes. Now, 52% of these users happen to be ex-smokers which suggests that e-cigars are offering a better way to quit smoking.

According to the Tobacco Control Programme Lead at PHE, Martin Dockrett, the question is not how unsafe e-cigarettes maybe but the level of harm when compared to traditional smoking. This shows that the safety of traditional cigarettes when compared to e-cigarette smoking, is something to take seriously.

Smoking substitute

Diseases associated with smoking account for the death of about one hundred thousand people each year in the UK. The cause of the death has been traced to the following; Coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer.

According to Martin, any smoker diagnosed with smoking-related heart disease must have tried quitting in the past. However, it is a lot easier for people to quit e-cigarette, and there are limited chances of addiction.

Now, GPs have received series of advice asking her to promote e-cigarettes as a substitute for traditional smoking. This is coming from Royal College of Physicians who have reviewed the available evidence.

PHE, in a recent independent study, reports that e-cigarettes do not contain most of the chemicals that are responsible for smoking related diseases. However, the e-cigar component chemicals pose little danger. According to Martin, the levels of carcinogen in e-cigarette users is like that of non-smokers, while it is prominent in tobacco smokers.

According to a study published in 2016, more research needs to be carried out on the long-term safety of e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes as both have been suggested to cause stiffening of the arteries within 30 minutes of user exposure.

Nicotine and your heart

Nicotine is not a problem for people without heart disease. While it may be addictive, it is not carcinogenic and it is not responsible for coronary heart disease or acute cardiac events. However, if you’re using nicotine replacement and you have a heart disease, you need to inform your GP.