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Is Vaping really safer than Smoking?

Is Vaping really safer than Smoking?

YES! - says Ian Hamilton, an associate professor of addiction at the University of York

Who had this to say on the subject:

I'd be the first to say that vaping isn't risk-free — anything that exposes people to some form of chemical that could accumulate in the lungs has the potential to produce harmful side-effects.

But set against the staggering danger smoking poses to health, using e-cigarettes is considerably safer.

Regular tobacco cigarettes contain thousands of chemicals, many of which are toxic including arsenic and cyanide.

The exposure in e-cigarettes doesn't compare. Little wonder they are endorsed by the NHS to help people stop smoking. And I'm not alone in thinking this: the Royal College of Physicians states that vaping is a 'substantially less harmful alternative to smoking'.

People who dismiss vaping as unsafe seem to be forgetting the colossal health issues smoking can cause — not least the fact it causes around seven in ten lung cancer cases in the UK, and is responsible for 83 per cent of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (an umbrella term for chronic lung diseases including emphysema and chronic bronchitis).

There's barely a part of the body that isn't adversely affected by smoking cigarettes, from gum disease to eyesight.

Having spent more than 30 years studying drug and alcohol addiction, I've had countless opportunities to witness first-hand the damaging effects of smoking, including dealing with patients with terminal lung cancer.

But I've never seen anything to suggest vaping causes the same extent of damage. What's more, the dangers of passive smoking are reduced when you vape. Second-hand smoke is responsible for an estimated 3,800 deaths a year in the UK, including, famously, entertainer Roy Castle.

E-cigarettes just release water vapour and don't produce the tobacco smoke with its lethal cocktail of toxins, carcinogens and irritants that can lead to cancer in others over prolonged exposure.

But the biggest gain from vaping is its importance for smoking cessation. Vaping has contributed to the overall decline in the numbers of people smoking — and I'm not surprised the anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking calculated that it helped an extra 70,000 people to quit in 2017.

Vaping is still relatively new — and there's scope for more research into the implications for health if used long term +4

Of course, it's vital that vaping is seen as a cessation tool rather than as a permanent substitute to cigarettes. Contrary to popular opinion, however, there's no evidence e-cigarettes act as a gateway to smoking. There are other net benefits, too. Although many people have now received the anti-smoking message, some parts of the population remain hard to engage — not least those with mental health problems who are known to smoke at higher rates. Vaping provides an alternative for people in places such as hospitals, prisons and hostels where smoking is banned, but vaping is permitted.

Yes, vaping devices need proper quality control. Regulations in the U.S. and UK are dramatically different, with American products more heavily nicotine-based and more aggressively advertised. In contrast, all UK vapes are regulated stringently by the MHRA, as are all drugs.

Vaping is still relatively new — and there's scope for more research into the implications for health if used long term. But at this point the balance of evidence is very much in their favour; there is simply no question that vaping is safer than lighting up.

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