Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Everybody is well aware of how difficult it can be to quit smoking and over the years, the market has been flooded with stop smoking aids offering varying degrees of success. The newest aid to assist smokers to help break the unhealthy habit is e-cigarettes, an electronic cigarette that administers varying doses of nicotine through inhalation of vapours. Vaping, as it is referred, is thought to be an excellent tool for overcoming the habit because it allows users to decrease their nicotine intake gradually, and is free from many of the harmful chemicals in cigarettes. But is it really the best approach to quit smoking once and for all?
People are actively being encouraged by public health officials to make the switch from traditional tobacco products over to electronic cigarettes, despite evidence that they may be toxic and there are many concerns over their overall safety. Reports launched by Public Health England and King’s College indicate that the use of e-cigarettes should be widely adopted by smokers as they carry just 5 percent of the risks of smoking tobacco. It has been estimated that approximately 75,000 lives a year could be saved if every cigarette smoker in Britain switched to vaping.
Experts are so enthusiastic about the minimal health effects of using e-cigarettes that they are calling for them to be regulated by the NHS, so they may be prescribed to help individuals kick their addiction to nicotine.
Britain’s Department of Health have officially asserted that vaping is considerable less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes, although isn’t necessarily risk free itself. It has been reported that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than their tobacco-based counterparts and the largest benefit to vaping over smoking is the absence of chemicals that are attributed to cancer and other smoking related illnesses. When it comes to smoking cigarettes, the biggest danger from tobacco is the smoke, but e-cigarettes don't burn, so they eliminate much of this concern. Testing shows that the vapours from electronic cigarettes have only fractions of the levels of dangerous chemicals emitted from a traditional cigarette.
Although it has been established that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional tobacco products, there has been much debate on whether or not it is actually an effective tool to combat nicotine dependence, as those who opt for e-cigarettes are still consuming nicotine whilst vaping.
Ideally, a person would vape for a while and lower the percentage of nicotine, eventually weaning off completely and quitting vaping altogether, effectively becoming nicotine free. There are concerns however, that e-cigarettes are merely a substitute for traditional cigarettes, mimicking the actions, flavours and habit of smoking. There is also some concern that the variety of flavours may make vaping appealing to children and non-smokers, encouraging more people to pick up such a harmful habit instead of assisting current smokers to quit as intended.
If a person decides to smoke anyway against all advice, it is true that the harmful effects of the habit can be minimised by opting for an e-cigarette, but they are not without their negatives either.
As appealing as this may be, it is important to be aware of the drawbacks of vaping, to be able to make a fully informed decision about what’s right for you.
Vaping may not be the perfect solution for everyone, as there are risks of using electronic cigarettes. Studies show that the flavouring used in e-cigarettes may in fact damage the immune system and can also cause respiratory issues.
Although it may be wise for people who are currently smoking, and have no intention of quitting, to make the switch and start vaping, it is not recommended that any non smokers begin to vape, or that somebody should attempt to quit by moving to e-cigarettes. Serious health decisions like quitting smoking should never be taken lightly, and it is always best to consult with a medical professional to determine which approach is best for you, given your individual situation and possible health conditions.
If you are not sure which stop smoking approach is the right one for you, our dedicated GP, Dr Helen Webberley can be of great help. She can talk through your medical history, any withdrawal symptoms that you may be afraid of and determine which treatment is suitable for you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.