Health Risks of E-cigarettes
You may have heard about the growing trend called ‘vapour smoking’, or e-cigarette smoking, which seems to be a replacement for cigarette smoking. E-cigarettes were apparently made for people trying to quit cigarette smoking, which is linked to respiratory diseases such as lung cancer. While this ‘vapour smoking’ trend seems to be a popular substitute for tobacco cigarettes, little is known about the health risks of vapour smoking. Is it truly a safer option to tobacco smoking? Well read on and find out, chomas.
What is an e-cigarette?
An e-cigarette is a battery-powered device that changes liquid nicotine into a mist or vapour that the smoker inhales and is designed to look and feel like a normal cigarette. The difference between a normal cigarette and an e-cigarette is there is no fire, ash and smoky smell with e-cigarettes, whereas with cigarette smoking there is all three. E-cigarettes don’t contain all of the harmful chemicals such as tar and carbon monoxide (a toxic gas that can, over long periods of time, result in increased risk of heart disease). However, e-cigarettes still do contain other chemicals such as nicotine.
How do e-cigarettes actually work?
Most e-cigarettes consist of three main components, namely:
- the vaporizer (or heating device)
- the cartridge – which holds the liquid solution having various amounts of nicotine, (sometimes) flavourings and other chemicals
- a power source, usually a battery
A normal cigarette contains nicotine which is an addictive substance. When the cigarette is lit, the person will inhale the smoke which will proceed to go to the lungs. The smoker will then release smoke that contains the nicotine. This process is called combustion – which is the act of burning, in this case, the tobacco.
With e-cigarettes, combustion does not occur, instead there is a nicotine liquid heated and then changes the liquid to a vapour or mist (think of water vapour process, where liquid water is heated and eventually turns into steam) – hence vapour smoking. Usually, the user may just simply inhale from the cartridge to start the vaporization process. Basically, what e-cigarettes do is deliver nicotine into the smoker’s system which is absorbed through the lungs, in a vapour form.
Are there any health risks?
Vapour smoking doesn’t necessarily fill the lungs with harmful smoke but that doesn’t mean they are a healthy alternative to traditional smoking. When e-cigarette smoking, you are still putting the substance, nicotine, into your body.
Nicotine is not only addictive, but it can be toxic if inhaled in high doses – the larger the dosage, the more the person’s blood pressure and heart rate go up. An abnormal heart rate may lead to arrhythmia – this can be serious or even life threatening because the heart may not be able to pump enough blood to the body. Lack of regular blood flow may damage organs like the heart and brain.
Is quitting possible?
Yes chomas, it is! It may be difficult in the beginning because you will experience nicotine withdrawals - you might start to feel depressed or moody. This is when your cravings for nicotine increase.
If you want to quit smoking, vapour smoking is not your best choice – because it is just as addictive as cigarette smoking. The steps to quitting e-cigarettes are the same as quitting tobacco, here’s how:
- Make a plan by setting a date to start the quitting process. You don’t have to go cold turkey (quitting suddenly from the addiction) because this might not work in the long run.
- Keep yourself busy through exercise or a hobby.
- Stay focused and remind yourself why you quit in the first place. The best way to do this is by writing down the reasons as to why you quit in the first place. Read the list every day to stay motivated.
Love yourself and be proud of taking this step to becoming healthier. It’s hard to quit anything you’re addicted to, so be kind and praise yourself each day for quitting.
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