An old friend asked for recommendations on the vaping front the other day, a long, long time smoker who it seems has finally had enough. Having given up almost three years ago, and switched to vaping, I offered some advice, not what to vape, but on the health side.
What and how I vape, and have vaped, is a separate subject that I’ll cover some other time, suffice to say I started on the ‘cigalikes’ (the kind you buy in petrol stations), progressed to numerous types and sizes of device, before returning to cigalikes (although with a more powerful battery and I refill my own cartridges).
I remembered seeing a very informative blog a while back about what the blogger perceived as the truth, but I had obviously not bookmarked it, so I went looking for it again, putting ‘the truth about vaping’ into a well-known search engine. Boy, are there a lot of different truths out there these days!
The thing I liked about that guy’s blog (I do remember it was a man) was that he’d tried really hard to avoid any information that came from either side, the (then) small vaping community, or Big Tobacco. Of course, vaping is now largely owned by Big Tobacco, so it’s even harder to find ‘the truth’ about the facts and figures, and particularly the health issues. So I spent a lot of time trying to find the same or similar links for my friend, and I thought I ought to put them out there.
Although it is early days for vaping, and there aren’t any long term studies on which to rely, not even for the health services, there are a still a lot of myths, misconceptions and downright lies out there about vaping being worse than smoking, which, for the avoidance of doubt, the current scientific consensus says it isn’t.
The whole popcorn lung myth is the classic – Diacetyl is a chemical once used to make give popcorn its buttery taste, and in 2002 eight cases of irreversible lung disease were documented in people who had worked at a Missouri popcorn factory between 1992 and 2000. In the early days it was used in ‘a lot’ of the vape liquids in the US (39 out of 51 tested, out of a possible 7000 types around in 2015, the date of the tests). It is now banned from all vape liquids, in the UK at least (the FDA in America are trying to ban it, but are being stalled) but cigarettes still contain it, many, many times more than was in the early vape liquids in fact.
But rather than repeat all the facts and figures, these are the main links:
This is the serious stuff, with all the official documents to download. It’s a LOT of reading:
Cancer Research UK – “New study comes the closest yet to proving that e-cigarettes aren’t as dangerous as smoking”
And finally, the ‘exploding e-cigarette’ myth:
The answer is ‘highly unlikely’, and the first man to die did so when his home-made mechanical mod blew up. “Mechanical mods do not use inner circuitry to regulate the voltage, and most e-cigarettes have more built-in safety features.”
These are not ‘vape pens’, however, as the BBC calls them, but serious bits of home-made kit designed to burn liquid or tobacco at very high unregulated voltages and temperatures.
It is possible for ordinary vape devices to blow up, but the bit that blows up is the lithium ion battery when misused, or charged with a charger other than that of the manufacturer, or kept in a pocket with the live terminal uncovered and next to other metal objects like coins or keys.
These are the same lithium ion batteries that power everything from your laptop to your phone to your watch. Those can blow up too if misused. So don’t carry spare batteries around in your pocket. Keep them separate if you have several – any vape shop or website can sell you a silicon battery cover for a few quid.
So, obviously the healthiest option is to neither smoke nor vape, and certainly don’t do both. I’m afraid you really shouldn’t vape and smoke weed either, but if you must do the latter, you can also get electronic kit to smoke that with in places in which it’s legal. But if you’re trying to give up smoking, vaping is one way to go. Of course, as I have been known to say, it’s also a 21st century nicotine delivery system.
One last thing – some vapers delight in blowing out clouds of vapour. It’s not compulsory.
(Featured photo courtesy of The Electronic Tobacconist. I’m not putting a link in – if you want to find them, you will. Other retailers are available.)