Vaping claims to be safer than cigarette smoking, and can even help smokers quit smoking, is it true? Our specialist from Singapore General Hospital (SGH) helps clear the smoke on what are the real facts and harms of vaping.
Vaping or the use of electronic (E) cigarettes is illegal in Singapore.
Yet, take a walk outside and it won’t be long before you meet someone using a vape.
Manufacturers of vapes (also known as Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems or ENDS for short) try to convince people that these are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, and may be used to help smokers kick the smoking habit.
Don’t fall for their marketing talk.
“It is FALSE that vaping is safer than cigarette smoking. Vaping causes airway inflammation that can lead to permanently damaged airways such as in bronchiolitis obliterans, or other forms of lung injury associated with severe respiratory failure, increased risk of
heart disease and
Clinical Assistant Professor Ken Lee, Consultant from the
Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine at
Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the
“There are many carcinogenic compounds in e-cigarettes that may cause cancers in the longer term. Furthermore, there have been reported cases of e-cigarette devices malfunctioning and exploding, resulting in burn injury to users,” he added.
Although relatively new compared to cigarette smoking, vaping has claimed lives. In 2020, over 2,800 hospitalised cases of vaping associated lung injury or deaths have been reported to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in the United States.
Here are other facts about vaping you need to know (which vape manufacturers try to hide).
1. Vaping is highly addictive and harmful
Vape manufacturers will have you believe that there is no or low nicotine in vaping, this is untrue.
“The amount of nicotine inhaled varies between different e-cigarettes. Those with higher nicotine content may be potentially more addictive than conventional cigarettes,” said Dr Lee.
Like conventional cigarettes, vaping devices contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that keeps users nicotine-dependent and increases the likelihood that they continue vaping for a long time.
In fact, what makes e-cigarettes potentially more addictive and dangerous is that users may obtain cartridges that contain much higher concentrations of nicotine or increase the e-cigarettes’ voltage to generate more vapor.
Contrary to popular belief that vaping emissions are harmless, Dr Lee explained that in addition to nicotine, these vaping emissions contain flavorings and several dangerous compounds such as acrolein, formaldehyde and heavy metals that are carcinogenic and toxic for reproduction.
2. Vaping does not help with quitting smoking
Another common misconception is that vaping can help smokers kick the smoking habit.
Unfortunately, what happens in most cases is that in addition to smoking cigarettes, smokers get hooked on vaping as well, thereby exposing themselves to the harmful effects of both products.
“If a smoker wants to quit, there are established strategies to quit smoking through professional counselling, combined with the use of medically approved nicotine replacement products,” advised Dr Lee.
It is truly worrying that the easy accessibility and lack of accountability on social media has made it so simple for manufacturers to misinform and glorify harmful activities as trendy. Like cigarette smoking, if you’ve never picked up vaping, don’t start. If you’re a smoker trying to quit, good for you and go get proper help from your doctor. The
Smoking Cessation Programme offered at SGH is one such help you can try.
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