Vaping has gained appeal as a less harmful alternative to smoking cigarettes, especially among younger generations. Unfortunately, like with any trend, myths, and misconceptions surrounding vaping can lead to confusion and misinformation. As such, the purpose of this piece is to dispel some of the more widespread misconceptions surrounding vaping and give you reliable data to allow you to make educated choices about your health.
Myth #1: Vaping causes popcorn lung
Popcorn lung, characterized by coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath, is frequently touted as evidence that e-cigarette use affects the lungs, despite the lack of scientific data tying vaping and popcorn lung.
This myth is based on a chemical called diacetyl, which was used in some early e-cigarette liquids and has been linked to cases of popcorn lung in popcorn factory workers. Yet, it is essential to know that diacetyl is no longer utilized in e-cigarette liquids.
According to 2018 data published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, vaping is 95% safer than traditional cigarettes and does not increase the risk of popcorn lung. The study concluded that the risk of developing popcorn lung from e-cigarette use is negligible.
Public Health England asserts that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than smoked tobacco and is concerned that many people believe e-cigarettes are more hazardous.
Myth #2: Vaping is just as harmful as smoking cigarettes
Vaping has hazards, but it is generally considered safer than smoking cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco, which is responsible for many of smoking’s harmful effects. Nicotine, however, is present in e-cigarettes and is both addicting and detrimental to the cardiovascular system.
Myth #3: Secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes is as harmful as secondhand cigarette smoke.
Secondhand cigarette smoke is a well-established health risk. A 2018 Nicotine & Tobacco Research study indicated that hazardous substances in the secondhand vapor were much lower than in secondhand smoke. Many assume that secondhand vapor from e-cigarettes poses a similar risk.
While the study did find some evidence of secondhand exposure to nicotine, the levels were much lower than those found in secondhand smoke. Yet it’s important to remember that additional study is required to properly comprehend the potential health consequences of secondhand vapor.
Myth #4: Vaping does not help smokers quit
Many people turn to e-cigarettes to quit smoking. While the tobacco industry will continue to conduct studies to try to prove that this is not true, there are many studies that prove vaping does indeed help smokers quit.
In this study by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, they found that over half of daily e-cigarette users have quit smoking in the past five years, compared to just 28% of adults who had never tried e-cigarettes. The study used data from the 2014 and 2015 National Health Interview Survey and found that daily e-cigarette use was the single strongest predictor of smoking cessation. The researchers suggest that while questions regarding the efficacy of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation remain, frequent e-cigarette use may play an important role in cessation or relapse prevention for some smokers.
While vaping has risks, it is essential to separate fact from fiction. Many of the most common myths about vaping are simply not true. Understanding the risks and benefits is necessary before deciding whether to use e-cigarettes. In the UK, vaping is regulated under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates all aspects of electronic cigarettes supplied in the United States, including their manufacture, importation, packaging, labeling, and marketing.
E-cigarettes: an evidence update. (2015, August 28). GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-an-evidence-update
https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2018/01/new-report-one-of-most-comprehensive-studies-on-health-effects-of-e-cigarettes-finds-that-using-e-cigarettes-may-lead-youth-to-start-smoking-adults-to-stop-smoking. (n.d.). https://www.nationalacademies.org/news/2018/01/new-report-one-of-most-comprehensive-studies-on-health-effects-of-e-cigarettes-finds-that-using-e-cigarettes-may-lead-youth-to-start-smoking-adults-to-stop-smoking
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