Health and Fitness

Is Vaping More Dangerous Than Smoking?

We lay down the facts.
IMAGE UNSPLASH
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In the past months, the vaping industry has taken a critical hit from the press for allegedly causing a mysterious lung illness. So far, there have been 23 deaths in the U.S. linked to the use of vapes. The scare has prompted major cities across the U.S. to ban the use of vapes or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). Is vaping actually more dangerous than smoking?

Here are the facts.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), roughly 10 Filipinos die every hour due to illnesses stemming from the use of combustible cigarettes or tobacco. These illnesses include lung cancer, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. The Philippines continues to have one of the highest smoking rates across all of Asia. There are 16 million Filipino smokers, which is why the DOH considers tobacco dependence as a key issue that hampers national development. The smoking epidemic translates to P270 million annually in healthcare costs and productivity losses, equivalent to 1.9 percent of the GDP.

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From 2009 to 2015, the number of adult Filipino smokers has dropped by six percent, but underage smoking among children aged 13 to 15 years old has increased, according to the 2015 Global Youth Tobacco Survey by the World Health Organization.

The World Health Organization tags smoking as the number one cause of preventable death in the world, with 7.1 million deaths a year. This is followed by obesity at 4.7 million deaths, and alcohol use at 2.8 million.

Photo by PIXABAY.
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What is vaping?

A vape device or an e-cigarette is a type of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). It is a battery-operated device that heats a cartridge of fluid typically made up of nicotine, propylene, glycol, glycerin, and flavorings. The liquid is converted into a mist, which is inhaled or “vaped.” Nicotine, a known stimulant like caffeine, is found in e-cigarettes but does not cause cancer.

Strictly speaking, vaping is not marketed as a healthy alternative to smoking, but is actually a useful alternative for smokers who want to reduce the health risks of smoking cigarettes. As much as 76 percent of current smokers planned to quit smoking, but only four percent of them are successful. Vapes were invented primarily for smokers who want to quit smoking by providing the same kick from nicotine without the harmful effects of inhaling tar. As such, non-smokers are highly discouraged from using e-cigarettes or vapes for recreation.

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Unlike conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco. As such, they do not give off noxious gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, nor do they produce the carcinogenic tar that is released when tobacco is burned.

Is vaping more toxic than smoking cigarettes?

A 2017 study by Cancer Research UK, one of the world’s leading independent charities dedicated to cancer research found that people who stopped smoking and switched to e-cigarettes or nicotine replacements have significantly lower levels of toxic and cancer-causing substances in their bodies compared to those who continued to smoke.

The research analyzed the saliva and urine samples of long-term e-cigarette and nicotine replacement therapy users, as well as smokers. The study concluded that e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to conventional cigarettes with minimal long-term effects.

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So why is there a rising number of vaping-related lung problems?

According to JUUL Labs, the leading manufacturer of vapes, vaping can be dangerous if you use non-government-approved liquids in the fluid cartridge of vapes, such as CBD oil or cannabidiol, a derivative of cannabis or marijuana. In many of the deaths linked with vaping, the users used counterfeit pods filled with customized juices with CBD oil.

While JUUL maintains that vaping its product poses 95 percent less health risk than smoking, it strongly emphasizes that vapes are intended for cigarette smokers only.

“We do not want anyone who doesn’t smoke, or doesn’t already use nicotine, to use JUUL products. We certainly do not want youth using the product. It is bad for public health, and it is bad for our mission,” said Ken Bishop, JUUL Labs president for Asia Pacific South. JUUL’s mission is to offer a viable alternative to cigarettes and help smokers quit smoking. So far, 99.6 percent of smokers who used their products have successfully quit or abstained from smoking.

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Don’t vape if you’re a non-smoker.

The bottom line in the issue should be clear: Vaping should be for tobacco smokers only. It poses a risk for non-smokers by hooking them to nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance. Vaping is not a healthy recreational activity for the youth and non-smokers, but is a very successful alternative for 16 million Filipino smokers who want to quit smoking.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor
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