Ask any internet search engine, friends or family member, and you will be met with differing opinions, facts and statistics as to the nature and level of the risks of vaping.
Vaping, however, is not risk free. E-cigarette aerosol can contain harmful chemicals, and e-liquids also contain nicotine, which is addictive.
Alongside this, the long-term effects of vaping on health are still unclear. Vaping products have not been available long enough to develop definitive scientific conclusions about their level of risk, but there is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports these products as a less risky alternative to smoking.
When it comes to avoiding the health risks associated with smoking, the simplest and best advice is to not smoke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start smoking or vaping. Young people should never use vapour or any other tobacco or nicotine products.
For those adult tobacco consumers who choose to continue to use nicotine, you might consider using a potentially reduced risk alternative product, such as an e-cigarette, as a complete substitute for smoking.
What about the nicotine content?
Why is vaping considered potentially less risky for health than smoking, when both products contain nicotine, which is addictive? The diseases associated with smoking are attributed predominantly to the smoke produced when tobacco is burned, and the resulting toxicants and tar.
In contrast, e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco. E-cigarettes work by heating liquid containing nicotine to produce vapour, which is then inhaled. Vaping does not involve the combustion of tobacco which creates many toxicants, instead an e-liquid is vapourised. This vapour aerosol has been shown to contain significantly fewer toxicants than the aerosol from a cigarette. However, you should remember that nicotine is addictive and vaping isn’t risk free.
Vaping isn't for the underaged
Different countries have varying legal ages for vaping. In the UK, for example, only those over the age of 18 years are permitted to purchase e-cigarettes. In the US, federal law prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under 21, and policy makers are focusing on steps to prevent vaping amongst young people, including minimum sales age laws that restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to young people.
Buy a quality product from a responsible retailer
The long-term impacts of vaping remain relatively unknown, but one of the immediate risks lies in the quality of the vape and e-liquids being used. Whilst cigarette and tobacco products are heavily regulated across most of the world, this isn’t the case when it comes to vaping and vaping accessories, where regulations can differ greatly from country to country. Because of these regulatory differences, and the availability of modular bespoke devices, the quality of vaping products being sold to consumers around the world can vary drastically.
There are many e-cigarettes and e-liquids sold by responsible retailers that have been manufactured to high standards and that are backed by science, research and testing.
However, there are also products being made by less established and sometimes disreputable manufacturers in the market, many of whom don’t always use high quality ingredients or technology.
Some less reputable retailers, and those who sell on the black market or on the streets, may tamper with their e-liquids or e-cigarettes to create custom flavours or qualities, again adding additional risk when purchasing vaping products.
Many vapers choose to buy vaping products made by brands they know and recognise, purchased from a respectable retailer.