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Vaping and E-Cigarettes vs. smoking

Clayre Barkema, Writer

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Graphic by Clayre Barkema

Ever since they were first introduced in 2006, E-Cigarettes have been marketed to the smoking population as a safer, healthier alternative to smoking. However, it’s hard to tell how much of that is true and how much of that is marketing lies.

According the the World Health Organization (WHO), the main risk factors of any tobacco product are various types of cancer, including lung cancer, along with cardiovascular disease. However, cigarettes contain over 4000 chemicals, 43 of which are known to cause cancer. The biggest health risk in a cigarette is nicotine, which on it’s own can cause a number of health problems.

Nicotine is highly addictive. As soon as smoke containing nicotine enters the lungs it takes about six seconds to reach the brain, where it then releasing dopamine, the “feel good” chemical, and adrenaline, which makes us feel alert and energized. The “buzz” smokers feel when they smoke cigarettes is caused by nicotine which is what keeps them coming back for more.

After a few packs of cigarettes, the “buzz” stops happening so people smoke more trying to recapture the feeling of the initial buzz, sparking the addiction to nicotine. As much as smokers claim cigarettes help them relieve stress, smoking is known to increase stress, depression, anxiety, and irritability, according the Quit Smoking Community.

So how do E-Cigarettes compare to traditional smokes? Cigarettes contain, on average, 12 mg of nicotine, 1 mg of which is absorbed into the system when smoked, according the World Health Organization. In comparison, E-Cigarette cartridges come in different concentrations of nicotine, meaning a person could be smoking 50% less nicotine per smoke. This can help smokers slowly wean off nicotine as they lower the dosage.

The liquid in a cartridge contains about 10 chemicals, according to E-Cig One, some of which even appear in food we eat every day like vegetable glycerin and food-grade flavorings. However, the FDA has said that there are chemicals that may be harmful for human consumption, though there is no regulation for manufacturers to submit a chemical test.

Smokers switching to e-cigarettes could save on average $2000 a year, with liquid refills costing only about $20 a week. With the average pack of cigarettes in the United States costing $7, a smoker that smokes a pack a day will spend about $2520 a year on cigarettes. When a person buys an e-cigarette, they pay for the initial device, which at Wal-Mart cost $25, and the e-liquid is about $5 a bottle, spending $1825 a year. Therefore, a pack-a-day smoker can save almost $700 a year.

Users have claimed that smoking e-cigarettes makes them dehydrated. Though the cause is unknown, propylene glycol has been known to cause this along with other allergic reactions, according to The National Institutes of Health. The liquid cartridges aren’t entirely safe on their own either. They can cause nicotine poisoning if drunk, which in itself causes vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, dizziness and seizures. As of right now, there are very few regulations for e-cigarettes, without proper warning labels, instructions for use, and safety tips.

E-Cigarettes are beneficial to the non-smoking population too. E-cigarette smoke has a very faint smell, if any at all. It’s almost undetectable in most cases. Plus, the smoke is significantly less harmful to bypassers compared to that of cigarettes.

E-Cigarettes are also harmful for to your lungs. A study in the Dec. 2011 edition of CHEST had a study that found that after smoking an e-cigarette for just five minutes, airflow in the lungs was already restricted.

Cigarette smoke is ingested as tiny particles which can work it’s way into the smallest passages in a person’s lungs, accelerating the absorption of nicotine, whereas E-Cigarettes have particles that are substantially larger, letting less nicotine into the blood.

Though e-cigarettes can not guarantee to help you stop smoking, it is easier to do when you can still get some nicotine in the body. There are health risks with both and both should be used with caution.

An organization called “Truth” is working to end smoking advertising to the teenager generations. Their slogan is “Be the generation that ends smoking,” and their creative ads have captured the attention of people of all ages. If you would like to know more about their organization and facts about smoking visit www.thetruth.com and be the generation that ends smoking.

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “Vaping and E-Cigarettes vs. smoking”

  1. Nick on March 28th, 2017 7:54 am

    “The biggest health risk in a cigarette is nicotine”: This is completely inaccurate. Nicotine in itself is not particularly harmful in the concentrations one would fine in a cigarette or an e-cigarette. What is dangerous is the tar, benzine and the other carcinogenic chemicals found in traditional cigarettes. Its not the nicotine that kills you – it’s the smoke.

    Nicotine is however very addictive. An alternate nicotine delivery system such as an e-cigarette offers the smoker an excellent advantage to quitting tobacco because it offers the same sensation as smoking, while eliminating the majority of the carcinogens. I myself was a pack a day smoker up until 4 years ago when I discovered e-cigarettes. Previous to this, I tried nicotine gums, lozenges, patches and pills – all to no avail. One might also say that people who can’t quit smoking are weak minded – this is simply not the case. Its a very powerful addiction and hard to stop when cigarettes are readily available on every street corner and gas station.

    [Reply]

  2. Greg Baughman on March 31st, 2017 10:05 am

    Your article is fairly balanced, although I’d like to make a couple of points.

    The average price per pack of cigarettes is $7. Take that x 365 days, and you get $2555, assuming the person is a “pack a day” smoker.

    A 30 mil bottle of e-liquid is about $20 retail, about $3 if you make it yourself (as I do). A 30 mil bottle will last about a week. That’s $1040 a year if you’re buying it, $156 a year if you’re making it yourself. That is yearly savings of between $1515 and $2399 per year; a significant cost savings over smoking.

    While nicotine is addictive, it’s not as “highly addictive” as people think. When removed from the other chemicals added to cigarettes by big tobacco to “keep you smoking”, lab tests have shown that at least lab mice can “take or leave” nicotine as they wish.

    Speaking of nicotine, did you know that it’s also present in potatoes and tomatoes naturally? That may be why kids are so addicted to french fries. 🙂

    Final thought; the nicotine in electronic cigarettes it the same pharmaceutical grade nicotine that is in the patch, gum, and lozenges.

    Overall, good job in not taking all the “junk science” that Public Health is promoting and doing some of your own fact checking. The bottom line is; vaporizing nicotine is a LOT safer for you than getting it by burning tobacco and sucking the smoke.

    [Reply]

  3. Greg Baughman on March 31st, 2017 10:11 am

    A couple other quick points, as I re-read the article.

    There are no “particles” in vapor. There are droplets. Particles mean solids, which smoke contain. If you look at the science, you take C3H8O3 (Vegetable Glycerine) + O2 (from inhalation) + Heat (catalyst) = H2O + CO2. That’s right. Water vapor, and carbon dioxide. At high temperatures, you *could* get CH2O (Formaldehyde), but honestly, that tastes very acrid and vapers will reduce their power if they get that “burned, acrid” taste. An electronic cigarette working properly and not “dry” will not generate formaldehyde.

    You referenced the 2011 edition of CHEST showing that vaping reduced lung capacity; that study was debunked when it was shown that a hot shower does exactly the same thing. 🙂

    Thank you again for your well-balanced article, however. Vaping should be used to QUIT SMOKING, and for no other reason. If you don’t vape or smoke, don’t start either.

    [Reply]

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