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Is Vaping A Safer Alternative to Cigarette Smoking?

Is Vaping A Safer Alternative to Cigarette Smoking?

India’s smoking problem is not new. From hookahs and bidis to chewing tobacco leaves, Indians have and continue to consume tobacco in various shapes and forms.  

Tobacco consumption, however, kills more than 6 million people globally every year. The World Health Organisation has even gone on to predict that the number of premature deaths due to Tobacco use could rise to 1 billion by the end of the 21st century, making it imperative that smokers find ways to quit this dangerous habit.


Why Is Smoking Harmful For Your Health?




Smoking affects almost every major organ and system in your body posing a wide range of health conditions and untimely death.


Approximately 45% of all cancers among males and 17% among females in India are directly linked to the use of tobacco smoking or chewing.


The consumption of tobacco has been linked to 80% of oral cancers Know more about the harmful effects of smoking here.


How Cigarettes Can Harm You



Cigarette smoke contains more than 4000 toxic chemicals, of which 69 are known to be cancer-causing. The main reason for smoking being so addictive is Nicotine - a chemical that can reach your brain within 6 seconds of smoking the first puff of your cigarette. 


Quitting smoking gives your body time to heal from the damage caused by these harmful chemicals and components.


Vaping - A Healthy Smoking Alternative?




Popularly known as e-cigarettes, they are a range of products classified as nicotine-delivery devices that aerosolize nicotine and flavoured chemicals through heating. A growing number of Indians now use e-cigarettes, also known as“vapes” to cut down on their smoking habits.


But, is vaping to quit smoking a real healthy alternative? 


Understanding E-Cigarettes


A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report found that while e-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, which produce a range of toxic chemicals when burned, they still pose a range of serious health risks. Learn more about how an e-cigarette works here.


How Harmful Are E-cigarettes?


While E-cigarettes are often believed to be a healthier alternative to cigarettes, preliminary research and newly registered cases in the US have begun to find an increased prevalence of lung problems associated with heavy users of e-cigarettes. India’s government has even gone as far as to propose a blanket ban on the sale of e-cigarettes due to the potential medical complications of vaping e-cigarettes. 


How Vaping Can Harm Your Health 



The US has reported at least 100 new cases related to lung damage, blood health, and a range of other conditions that they are attributing to vaping.

  1. Lung Health

    Research is underway to find the cluster of pulmonary diseases that have been caused due to excessive vaping. Most people who have reported sick have been hospitalised, with some in intensive care and medical observation.

    It is suspected that some of the aerosolised chemicals in an e-cigarette can cause serious lung tissue damage and inflammation. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, shortness of breath or chest pain, fever, cough, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

  2. Brain Health

    Some research has pointed towards chemicals in e-cigarettes that produce a stress response in the stem cells of the brain. Even short-term exposure to these harmful components in e-cigarettes may lead to cell death or a range of neurodegenerative diseases.

    The high levels of nicotine in e-cigarettes cause “nicotine flooding”, resulting in special brain receptors to open up and allow the entry of calcium and other ions. This leads to changes in the functions of the cells, and they may rupture or leak, leading to cell death.

    This can impair your memory, learning, and cognitive functions.

  3. Seizures

    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is researching a potential link between e-cigarettes, or ‘vaping’ with seizures, especially in the youth. Although a scientific link has not been established yet, it could be due to nicotine poisoning. Liquid nicotine, when swallowed or absorbed through the skin, can cause seizures. Research is still underway to find the real cause of reported seizures.

  4. Blood Health

    A recent study suggests that vaping temporarily impacts the functions of your blood vessels. Researchers are still trying to find the chemical component responsible for such changes in cardiovascular functions.


How Safe Of An Alternative is Vaping?




Although vaping is considered much safer than cigarette-smoking, it may not be an entirely safe alternative. Studies are still underway to understand what effects aerosolized chemicals have on lung health. Some studies suggest the flavouring pods used in e-cigarettes can have adverse impacts on lung health over a period of time. 


Recent medical cases, as well as the Government’s growing concern about the sale and use of e-cigarettes, suggest that vaping e-cigarettes may not be as benign an activity after all. If you experience any symptoms of lung inflammation, especially if you have been vaping, consult your doctor at the earliest.


Dr. Harsh Vardhan Puri
Lung Transplant
Meet The Doctor
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