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Is vaping bad for me?

Vaping is an electronic version of smoking cigarettes but is it any healthier?


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Vaping is an electronic version of smoking cigarettes, where vapour instead of smoke is inhaled from an e-cigarette. E-cigarettes consist of a battery, a heating element or coil, and a cartridge which usually contains a solution of propylene glycol, water, flavouring and nicotine. When the user inhales, the battery heats the element and this produces the vapour. E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, do not rely on combustion and do not contain carbon monoxide however the user is exposed to nicotine and other chemicals which research suggests are quite harmful particularly when they are heated. Although e-cigarettes are often advertised as a healthier substitute to smoking cigarettes we cannot vouch for their safety until they have been thoroughly assessed and monitored over a long period of time and it is currently recommended that they should not be used.

Click here to read more about how e-cigarettes work.  

Is vaping addictive?

The liquid in e-cigarettes contains nicotine which is a highly addictive drug. When nicotine is inhaled into the lungs it is quickly released into the blood and up to the brain. In the brain nicotine triggers the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine which temporarily can help to regulate mood and behaviour. The brain quickly adapts to nicotine and like most addictive drugs the brain needs more and more nicotine to produce the same effect. This is why nicotine is so addictive and so dangerous.

Can vaping help calm my anxiety? 

Although nicotine may seem to help deal with stress and make the user feel relaxed, once the nicotine levels begin to fall after about 20 minutes a person will experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, feelings of stress and increased cravings. Vaping to increase nicotine levels in the blood again will ease these cravings but makes the vaper dependent on using nicotine in order to relieve withdrawals like feelings of anxiety.

If you would like to read more about coping techniques to help lessen anxiety click here.

What effect does vaping have on my lungs?

Vaping makes our lungs more vulnerable to infection. There is a type of cell in our lungs called the alveolar macrophages or “dust cells”. These cells stop irritants such as dust and infectious bacteria from passing into our airways. They are also involved in lung inflammation which is a defence mechanism in the lungs to protect against infection. A recent study on the effect of vaping on these dust cells found that around 38% of cells that were exposed to the vapour that contain nicotine died, compared with 6% of cells not exposed. For more information on this research click here

Can vaping help me quit smoking?

Vaping is not recommended as a way to help quit smoking. Vaping can lead to increased nicotine addiction and vaping instead of smoking does not help to break the relationship a person will have with smoking. Take for instance a person who is trying to give up smoking who decides to use nicotine gum. This person will stop repeating behaviours that they used to have around smoking such as going for a smoke break at work or going out for a smoke on a night out. A person who chooses to vape instead of smoking will still repeat smoking behaviours as part of their lifestyle, they will maintain their addiction to nicotine and the routine in and of itself is an addictive factor involved in smoking.

What is the best way to quit smoking? 

Research tells us that the best way to stop smoking is to use an evidenced based medication like nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gum, lozenge oral spray etc) or there are other prescribed medications which are very effective and which your doctor or pharmacists will explain to you. Getting the right help and support is really important. There are many free stop smoking support services which will significantly increase your chances of quitting successfully (see details of services below)

If you would like to learn about techniques that can help you quit smoking click here

Vaping as a young person 

People are often choosing to vape instead of smoke, viewing it as a healthier option. Compared to smoking tobacco, e-cigarettes are deemed to be safer; however, there is no research into the long-term effects of their usage. Whether a young person chooses to smoke tobacco or vape they are still inhaling nicotine and the younger a person tries nicotine the greater their risk is of addiction. As a young person the brain is more vulnerable to the effects of addictive substances than that of a fully developed adult brain. Nicotine can disrupt brain development, interfere with long-term cognitive functioning, and increase the risk of various mental and physical health problems later in life. The safest option is to avoid smoking or vaping completely. 

Help and advice to QUIT smoking

  • Visit QUIT.ie for tips on quitting smoking and to sign up for an online quit plan
  • Find QUIT on Facebook for tips and support from other quitters
  • Call the Freephone Quitline to speak to someone who understands and can help you quit on Freephone 1800 201 203
  • Talk to your GP or Pharmacist
  • Read more about quitting smoking, the health effects of smoking and more on Spunout.ie/quit
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Published December 19th, 2018
Last updated December 20th, 2018
Tags vaping smoking quit smoking
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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