In recent years, you may have seen people vaping as you go about your day. Vapes and e-cigarettes have soared in popularity since they were invented in 2004. They are used as a substitute for tobacco smoking, as well as for self-medicating with both dry aromatherapy herb mixes and liquid extracts.
Smoking has been known to be dangerous since at least the 1960s. Smoking causes dozens of different cancers, heart disease and heart failure, diabetes, narrowed blood vessels, stroke, emphysema, and a host of other health problems. It is leading cause of preventable deaths, illnesses, and impoverishment worldwide.
Smoking leads to 7.1 million deaths globally per year. Just under 1 million of these are from passive smoking, so it poses a danger not only to smokers but to those around them, too. There are at least 4000 chemical compounds in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are harmful and more than 50 cause cancer.
Not only is the smoke from tobacco harmful, but chewing and even handling tobacco is not good for human health. Vaping fluids are generally free of all traces of tobacco.
What Is It?
Vaping is short for vaporizing. It’s where a dry herb or its extract is heated to produce vapour, which is then inhaled. The two major uses for vaping are in self-medication and for quitting smoking. It is thought to be much safer than burning plant materials and inhaling those.
So is it safe?
Initially, there was scepticism about vaping in the scientific and medical community. The machines and mixtures were largely unregulated and produced in factories halfway around the world from the consumer. It was assumed that both devices and fluids were unsafe, and many governments were slow to accept vaping as a viable stop-smoking aid.
Vaping is not harmless, but it is definitely not as bad as the initial scare suggested, and seems to be much healthier than smoking. Some of the harmful compounds from smoke appear in vapour, but only at a level below 1% of that found in smoke, and far below safe levels.
There are some unique toxic components in vape ‘juice’, but they appear to be at a safe level also. There is a worry that some of the metals used in vaporizer construction may contaminate the fluids, but this also seems to be at a very low level.
Research funded by Cancer Research UK found a large reduction in carcinogens and other toxic compounds in vape oil, compared with tobacco smoke. The cancer risk from vaping was found to be only 1% of that from smoking.
Safer than Smoking?
Vaping is definitely safer than smoking. It has been shown to help many people with their nicotine addiction and to help people use herbal medicines and tinctures.
A number of health services internationally have approved vaping as an aid to quit smoking, but the recommendation is that one shouldn’t smoke and vape at the same time. This has been shown to discourage or sabotage quit attempts. Some data suggest that vaping and smoking concurrently can be as bad or worse than smoking on its own.