Anyone who has ever tried to stop smoking can tell you that it is not easy. Some people cope well with more traditional methods to help curb their cravings for nicotine, using nicotine gum or patches to help them quit. But for others, this just doesn’t do enough; without the feeling and actions of smoking, these individuals feel something is still missing. For many of these people, vaping has proved to be a successful substitute.
What Is Vaping?
Vaping is an alternative to smoking, using a vaporiser. The vaporiser consists of a rechargeable battery pack (usually the largest part of the vaporiser), a heating coil surrounded by a tube, and a mouthpiece. When a button on the outside of the vaporiser is depressed, it activates the heating coil, vaporising the liquid, which is then inhaled.
Vaping liquid, or e-liquid, is available in an enormous range of flavours. The liquid is made up of water, propylene glycol, glycerol (also called glycerine) and flavouring. Most vaping liquids also contain nicotine and are available in various strengths; however, some versions contain no nicotine. This is what makes vaping particularly attractive, and useful, to those trying to stop smoking, as they can gradually reduce the strength of nicotine in the liquid they use, eventually using liquids with no nicotine at all. From there, it is a much easier step to stopping altogether. As mentioned, the liquids are available in a vast range of flavours, including tobacco flavours, fruit flavours, and even things like popcorn and candyfloss!
The ‘smoke’ from a vaporiser consists mainly of water vapour, propylene glycol, glycerol, and some nicotine – the same things present in the vaping liquid.
How Harmful Is Vaping?
While the medical community largely agrees that vaping is much better for health than smoking ‘regular’ cigarettes, it is still not completely harmless, and vapers have reported a number of side effects. As vaping and e-cigarettes are still relatively new, there has not been a lot of academic research into the effects, so most information is anecdotal. Nevertheless, more scientific research into the effects of vaping is being published all the time.
Vaping side effects that have been reported include:
- coughing and/or an irritated throat, which most users find clears up after a short time.
- Dehydration or a dry or sore throat or nose. These are likely to be caused by the propylene glycol or glycerol, as both these chemicals are very good at absorbing water.
- Headaches, which could again be caused by the moisture-absorbing properties of the propylene glycol causing dehydration. Drinking plenty of water will help alleviate the symptoms.
- Dizziness or nausea. This is most likely caused by the nicotine present in vaping liquid, so trying a lower nicotine content version might help.
- Stomach aches, again probably caused by the nicotine.
- Some users have reported that vaping has made their asthma worse.
- Some users have found their sense of taste affected by vaping, sometimes this only affects a particular flavour of vaping liquid, but for others it affects their global sense of taste.
However, the vast majority of people who have switched from smoking cigarettes to vaping report positive effects after their switch, including:
- being able to breathe better
- improved sense of smell and taste
- better general physical health
- improved stamina and endurance
- coughing less
- improvement in symptoms of diseases such as asthma, high blood pressure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
So Is Vaping Better Than Smoking?
Studies carried out at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King College London have shown that sixty-five per cent of smokers who used an e-cigarette went on to try and stop smoking, compared to forty-four per cent of smokers not using e-cigarettes. The lead author also said, “We already know that using an e-cigarette in an attempt to quit smoking increases the chances of success compared to quitting without any support.” The study also found that using an e-cigarette daily made smokers more likely to be successful in stopping smoking standard cigarettes.
Although the long-term effects of vaping are not really known, more studies are being carried out, and it is very clear that vaping is considerably less harmful than smoking cigarettes. There are far fewer harmful chemicals present in both the liquid inhaled, and the exhaled vapour.
Where Can I Get Help to Stop Smoking?
While switching to vaping can help you to stop smoking cigarettes, it is still just an alternative, and it will always be better to stop smoking anything. At Addiction Helper, we can give you advice on where to find the support you need to help you stop smoking for good. Our counsellors and advisers will help you to find a treatment centre that best suits your circumstances, so please contact us today.