The question of whether or not e-cigs are harmful, or to what degree they are harmful to people, is still, metaphorically speaking, up in the air. In other words, there has not yet been enough time for a long-term study to conclusively outline the health effects of vaping or e-cigs; however, looking at some of what is known regarding the topic can help individuals come to their own conclusions about whether or not e-cigs are a healthier life-style alternative for individual smoking needs over traditional tobacco products.
Addiction & E-Cigs
While many individuals have used e-cigs and vapes as a stepping-stone to quit smoking entirely, there still exists some confusion and regarding whether or not e-smoking devices are harmful. Since e-liquids give smokers more freedom to control the ingredients used in their individual smoking liquids, it is possible to use e-smoking devices to wean the body off of any physical addiction to the main chemical culprit behind physical addiction, nicotine.
If an individual desires to gradually quit smoking traditional cigarettes, then s/he may begin to decrease the potency of the nicotine added to each smoking experience, which could lessen any e-cig harmfulness related to higher concentrations of nicotine. With the traditional cigarettes, individuals have no control over the ingredients, leaving smokers vulnerable to the trend by any tobacco companies of increasing the strength of nicotine to retain chemical addiction. With smoking traditional cigarettes, Individuals are also vulnerable to many other chemical hazards known for a fact to negatively impact health, cause cancer, pregnancy complications, and ultimately death. On the other hand, E-Cigs allow individuals to customize the ingredients that they will inhale into their lungs, allowing individuals to limit ingredients to only 2-3 ingredients if desired; this could possibly decrease the harmfulness of e-cigs related to lengthy lists of chemicals inhaled during the smoking experience. Because of this ability to customize the number of ingredients as well as the strength of the ingredients in terms of chemical potency, E-Cigs may serve as a useful tool in curbing chemical reliance on traditional cigarettes and could be a meaningful step towards a healthier, addiction-free lifestyle, effectively eliminating some of the harmful health effects from continued smoking.
Understanding Other Potential Influences of Smoking Addiction
To better understand the components of addiction not reliant strictly upon physical addiction, one needs to evaluate the personality characteristics of the individual smoker, habitual nature of human beings, as well as social influences. Some individual personalities are predisposed from a medical and psychological standpoint towards developing addictions. This does not mean that these addictions cannot be avoided, it simply means that some individuals may need to work harder than others at increasing awareness of possible addictions and work harder at breaking addictions once they occur. The predispositions of an individual will also play a vital role in the effects of how harmful smoking is to the person’s health.
Smoking often becomes a ritualistic habit, meaning smokers often have a set interval between the time that they end a smoking session and the time that they start a new smoking session: the time between each “smoke break.” Smoking addictions which include frequent smoke breaks can, therefore, disrupt daily routines and productivity, which could impact an individual’s health by the byproduct of creating additional stress from a lack of productivity, adding a different type of harmfulness to a disruptive smoking habit. This disruption of productivity can be a side effect of smoking both traditional cigarettes and e-cigs.
Smoke breaks are increasingly not a solo-smoking experience. Often, fellow smokers will group together to smoke and chat during a break, adding a complex social aspect to the smoking experience. On one end of the social spectrum, individuals may be socially ostracized for smoking, while on the other end, individuals may be ostracized for not continuing the social smoking circle. Smoking becomes a socially bonding experience, which by its nature, encourages the continuation of smoking. This social aspect of smoking is at the forefront of many individual’s concerns and among the leading causes for continuing to ban smoking in an effort to decrease its perceived harmful effects, especially within public in-door areas, such as restaurants, vehicles with children present in them, and more.
Laws Intended to Protect Against Potential Harm
As the adverse health impacts are not yet fully understood regarding e-cigs and vapes, many policy enforcers and law makers continue to err on the side of caution, maintaining a “better safe than sorry” mentality: using the discoveries of long-term negative health impacts of traditional tobacco products as a precedent for continuing to treat all smoking as a danger to public health, as well as a potential social nuisance for nonsmokers.
This rationale is derived from the concern of repeating the nativity surrounding early tobacco use in which cigarettes where, at one point in time, erroneously believed to not only lack adverse health effects, but to actually believed to be beneficial for one’s health. Over the decades, correlations from modern improvements in medicine and health studies have directly linked cigarette smoking to serious medical conditions, helping to increase public awareness of the truth behind the health hazards of traditional tobacco products in an effort to improve as well as maintain public health and air quality.
Secondhand smoke v, secondhand vape
While the most common adverse health effect of e-cigs and vaping, thus far, appears to be limited to individuals with allergic reactions to one of the types of liquids—side effects range from slight itching sensations, to rashes, and full anaphylaxis in cases of severe allergic reaction which disrupts breathing and requires immediate medical intervention– many individuals are not convinced that other health side effects will not emerge decades from now; meanwhile, the current lack of correlation between vaping and e-cig negative health effects is enough for many to question why this seemingly healthier alternative to traditional smoking is not being more readily accepted in indoor public areas, and why recent media backlash against traditional tobacco products is lumping e-cigs and vapes into the same harmful category when there is no researched consensus that these modern smoking devices are as bad for or as dangerous for first hand nor secondhand exposures.
E-smoking Not for Children
As children and the elderly are generally regarded to be more vulnerable and susceptible to negative effects of environmental hazards, as a precautionary step, laws and polies have been implemented to continue to try to protect children and other potentially vulnerable groups; therefore, smoking e-cigs or vapes have been increasingly limited in terms of acceptable locations for public use, despite the relatively less offensive odor, and lack of consensus data correlating these devices with similar negative health effects of traditional tobacco products.
Potential Undisclosed Hazards of Cartridge Based E-Cigs
A surgeon general of the US Air force issued a memo warning that one sample tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that the batch of e-Cigs contained a harmful chemical, found in antifreeze. The memo also stated that in the testing of another batch of e-Cigs which were also tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found the devices to contain other known carcinogens. This memo warns that e-cigs may not be the healthy smoking alternate that it is being advertised as. However, this memo appears to be limited to a specific cartridge based e-Cig tested by the FDA, which may be indicative of isolated bad batches, possibly linked to a single, undisclosed company, and may not be indicative of hazardous toxins across the industry. At this time, more information is needed before conclusively labeling all cartridge based e-cigs and vape smoking devices in the same category as the known hazardous category of traditional tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, traditional cigarettes, or cigars.
In short, when it comes to these new, electronic smoking devices and the hazards which they may possess toward individual users health and the proximity of anyone around them, we do not know conclusively to what extent, if any, that these products are harmful. Much of the concern regarding these devices is based on the precedent of traditional tobacco products. Individuals are understandably weary of any “smoking device” which purports to be healthier or a cleaner alternative to traditionally harmful tobacco products.
If the surgeon general’s warning of the FDA findings proves to be true across the industry for e-cig cartridge devices, then it is quite possible that research and studies will start to find correlations between these new smoking devices and adverse health effects. However, given the number of individuals who were predominantly traditional smokers who then switched to newer electronic smoking devices, it may take decades to prove a correlation between any adverse health effects and electronic smoking devices, as adverse health effects might be the result of using traditional methods of smoking, rather than using the newer devices.
Despite the ambiguity of current data related to e-smoking devices and negative health impacts, many individuals identify smoking as a biologically unnatural habit, meaning the human lungs function best in good-quality air environmental conditions, with limited pollution from smoking and otherwise. Therefore, many e-cig users and vape users turn to these devices in an effort to minimize the pollutants inhaled into their lungs and desire to eradicate the entire habit of smoking from their lifestyle entirely, yet there are others who note the increase in smoking popularity as a result of these devices; this trend of younger individuals smoking in greater percentages and with greater frequency only increases the importance of a consensus. A trusted company among many smokers is the South Beach Company, which has established a reputation for high-quality products.