Dr. Patricia Farrell on Medika Life

The Dangers of Fighting Cigarette Addiction With Vaping Are Not Vague

Vaping may not contribute to lung cancer the way cigarettes do, but there are still dangers in that “smoke.”

I’ve often wondered what the reason was that any of us smoked, and then I realized it was that we were trying to be one of the crowd. And yes, nicotine does have an anxiolytic effect, so it can help calm you down in a stressful situation, but that hook can be your death warrant.

It’s much easier to light up a cigarette, which is not a controlled substance than to pop a pill for which you need a prescription. In fact, our body has specific nicotinic receptors in the spinal cord and brain.

Once, when I stopped smoking, I was visiting a friend and her sister, and she kept indicating that I should light up with them. I didn’t want to, but she said, “But what will you do with your hands?” Such a serious matter—what to do with one’s hands.

I guess I would’ve done with my hands what anyone else did: put them in a pocket or on the table or chair where I was sitting. What would anyone need to do with their hands if they didn’t have a cigarette? Well, now there’s a new push to become one of the crowd, and it’s vaping.

The question, of course, is now not one of what I would do with my hands but whether vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes. Remember the major lawsuits that were tried over years and years where people died of lung cancer (John Wayne smoked several packs a day, as did Edward R. Murrow, and both died of lung cancer). How many people have died because they smoked? I have a few in my family, and even though one stopped smoking for at least 30 years, cigarette smoking proved to be her death knell.

How Is Vaping Safer Than Cigarettes?

No one else has ever thought about giving up smoking like you have, correct? Well, many people say they want to quit, and it’s good for your health to stop smoking because it can cause damage to almost every part of your body, including your heart.

Smoking or being around smokers is a factor in almost one-third of heart disease deaths. And, there’s danger even in second-hand smoke, or, some would say, third-hand smoke. What is third-hand smoke?

There are pollutants in the air that get spread when people smoke tobacco. This is called third-hand smoke. Chemicals that are found in third-hand smoke include nicotine and chemicals that cause cancer, like formaldehyde, naphthalene, and others.

Over time, third-hand smoke gets on most surfaces. It can get stuck on soft surfaces, like clothes, furniture, drapes, beds, and carpets. It also settles on hard objects like floors, walls, and cars as dust-like particles. There may still be third-hand smoke around for months after the person who is smoking has stopped.

You might want to try e-cigarettes, vape pens, and other reusable and throwaway vaping devices to make the switch from regular cigarettes to not smoking easier. If you smoke e-cigarettes (also called vaping), is that better for you than chewing tobacco?

Might e-cigarettes assist you in quitting smoking for good? And are e-cigarettes better than prescription products to help you stop smoking? Researchers are looking at these questions; some are weighing in on vaping, but I have doubts.

Vaping is not without consequences, and the CDC released a report a few years ago that indicated people who were vaping had deaths associated with it. They hypothesized some fatalities resulted from using illegal vaping products, which might have contained harmful ingredients. There have been 2,807 cases of e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury (EVALI) and 68 deaths linked to this disease, according to the CDC.

What’s in vaping? An analysis by a major university startled even the researchers, who found products they had difficulty identifying. Researchers found and measured six possibly dangerous additives and contaminants in e-cigarette liquids and aerosols.

Metals, carbonyls, free radicals, and phthalates are just some of the known toxicants that have been found and measured in e-cigarette liquids and fumes so far. If we’re concerned about having smoke with a carcinogenic product in it, how do we feel about having smoke that has metal in it? No one needs or wants metal fragments in their lungs.

Research is clear at this point that vaping carries with it specific dangers that may be as bad or even worse than cigarettes. However, if someone were smoking and wanted to stop, would it be better to vap or take the prescription product? That research has now been published, and it leans in the direction of vaping rather than the prescription product. But there’s another issue related to vaping.

The smoke in an e-cigarette product does contain nicotine and researchers have concluded that those who vap do so constantly during the day. As a result, they are exposed to higher levels of nicotine and all the other damaging products. Higher exposure, therefore, would lead to an addiction that may be as serious or even more serious than cigarette smoking. Heavy smokers may smoke more than a pack a day, but how many vap products does a vaper use during the day?

The big difference is that while there is a prescription product to help people stop smoking, there is no product that would help people stop vaping. Therefore, we have a new addiction with no apparent remedy at this point. Not only is the addiction potentially life-threatening, but many people believe it is a benign activity. The lack of information regarding vaping needs to be addressed, just as cigarette smoking was addressed when its cancer potential was revealed.

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Pat Farrell PhD
Pat Farrell PhDhttps://medium.com/@drpatfarrell
I'm a licensed psychologist in NJ/FL and have been in the field for over 30 years serving in most areas of mental health, psychiatry research, consulting, teaching (post-grad), private practice, consultant to WebMD and writing self-help books. Currently, I am concentrating on writing articles and books.


Medika Editor: Mental Health

I'm a licensed psychologist in NJ/FL and have been in the field for over 30 years serving in most areas of mental health, psychiatry research, consulting, teaching (post-grad), private practice, consultant to WebMD and writing self-help books. Currently, I am concentrating on writing articles and books.

Patricia also acts in an editorial capacity for Medika's mental health articles, providing invaluable input on a wide range of mental health issues.

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