Is vaping more dangerous than what we have been told?
There are substantial conflicting opinions on whether vaping is a danger to people’s health. It is the belief that vaping is the lesser of two evils, and that you should use electronic cigarettes as they are 95% safer to use than tobacco cigarettes.
But are they really?
Martin Dockrell, Tobacco Control Lead at Public Health England, said:
“There is still work to do to reassure smokers that vaping, while not risk free, is much less harmful than smoking. If you smoke, switching to an e-cigarette could save your life.”
E-cigarettes have only been in England since 2007, and therefore long-term research into whether e-cigarettes are harmful, and cause disease are impossible. They haven’t been around long enough, so how can Martin Dockrell, in all honesty and certainty advise the public to switch to an e-cigarette when it is unknown what the future effects are? If we think about tobacco cigarettes, it was decades until they found the link between lung cancer and cigarettes. The adverse health effects of cigarettes were only known by the mid-19th century and German doctors were the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer. E-cigarettes were created for quitting tobacco cigarettes, but there is strong evidence that people are not making the switch from tobacco to e-cigs, to fully quitting. They are dual users, switching back and forth from tobacco to e-cigs.
According to Stanton A. Glantz PhD Director, Center for Tobacco Research Control & Education, at the University of California,
“It is also becoming clear that e-cigarettes have a different risk profile than conventional cigarettes, so the effects of dual use – the most common use pattern – is worse than smoking.
Are “E-Cigarettes 95% Safer than Cigarettes?
“PHE compare their own evidence review a few weeks after the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report on e-cigarettes stating:
“Their conclusion on e-cigarette safety also finds that based on the available evidence‘e-cigarettes are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes.”
The actual quote from US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine states:
“While e-cigarettes are not without health risks, they are likely to be far less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes.”
If you read through the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report you will notice that their findings have many more conclusions, which demonstrate the adverse effects of electronic cigarettes.
Professor John Newton, Director for Health Improvement at PHE said:
“Every minute someone is admitted to hospital from smoking, with around 79,000 deaths a year in England alone. Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95% less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders. Yet over half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don’t know.”
Where did the “95% less harmful” come from?
The Annual Review of Public Health, has been in publication since 1980. They cover any significant developments in public health such as environmental and occupational health, issues in epidemiology, biostatistics, social environment and behaviour, public health practice and policy, and health services.
“Influential health organizations in England, including Public Health England (85), the Royal College of Physicians (105), the Royal Society for Public Health (106), and the National Health Service (85, 96), have unequivocally stated that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than conventional cigarettes. This claim originated from a single consensus meeting of 12 people convened by D.J. Nutt in 2014 (97). They reached this conclusion without citing any specific evidence (32).
The Nutt et al. paper did include this caveat:
“A limitation of this study is the lack of hard evidence for the harms of most products on most of the criteria” (97, p. 224), which has generally been ignored by those quoting this report (85, 96, 105, 106).”
“A 2015 editorial in The Lancet (39) identified financial conflicts of interest associated with Nutt et al. (97), noting that “there was no formal criterion for the recruitment of the experts.”The Nutt et al. meeting was funded by EuroSwiss Health and Lega Italiana Anti Fumo (LIAF). EuroSwiss Health is one of several companies registered at the same address in a village outside Geneva with the same chief executive, who was reported to have received funding from British American Tobacco (BAT) for writing a book on nicotine as a means of harm reduction (66) and who also endorsed BAT’s public health credentials (127).
Another of Nutt’s coauthors, Riccardo Polosa, was Chief Scientific Advisor to LIAF, received funding from LIAF, and reported serving as a consultant to Arbi Group Srl, an e-cigarette distributor. He also received funding from Philip Morris International (84, 129).
Later in 2015, the BMJ published an investigative report (51) that raised broader issues surrounding potential conflicts of interest between individuals involved in the Nutt et al. paper. BMJ provided an infographic illuminating undisclosed connections between key people involved in the paper and the tobacco and e-cigarette industries as well as links between the paper and Public Health England via one of the co-authors.
Even so, as of June 2017, the “95% safer” figure remains widely quoted, despite the fact that evidence of the dangers of e-cigarette use has rapidly accumulated since 2014. This new evidence indicates that the true risk of e-cigarette use is much higher than the “95% safer claim would indicate.”
While it is unknown whether e-cigarettes are harmful long term, and there is questionable ethics at play. E-cigarettes are being advertised to the world as 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Our health professionals and other respected organisations are recommending, and supporting a product whose future effects are unknown, and more evidence seems to be piling up indicating that vaping does not appear to be as safe as we might think. Disturbingly, it seems to be a case of let’s wait and see.
Are E-cigarettes a gateway for young people leading to cigarette smoking?
According to PHE,“The evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are a route into smoking among young people. Youth smoking rates in the UK continue to decline. Regular use is rare and is almost entirely confined to those who have smoked.”
Stanton A. Glantz PhD Director, Center for Tobacco Research Control & Education said,
“Every single study done examining the gateway effect of e-cigarettes leading to cigarette smoking shows a strong link.”
According to new University of Pittsburgh research,
“Young adults who use electronic cigarettes are more than four times as likely to begin smoking tobacco cigarettes within 18 months as their peers who do not vape. The findings demonstrate that e-cigarettes are serving as a gateway to traditional smoking, contrary to their purported value as a smoking cessation tool.”
As I said at the beginning, there are substantial conflicting opinions and beliefs on the subject of vaping, but the U.K. is seemingly more captivated and bewitched by e-cigs than most!
Deaths & reported illnesses associated with Vaping USA
The following statistics come straight from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
“As of January 14, 2019, · 2,668 cases of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury have been reported to CDC from 50 states in the USA.·
60 deaths have been reported in 27 states and the District of Columbia (as of January 14, 2020)·
The median age of deceased patients was 51 years and ranged from 15 to 75 years (as of January 14, 2019).
- More deaths are under investigation.
- Among the 2,668 hospitalized EVALI cases or deaths reported to CDC (as of January 14, 2020):
In many of these cases, reports from patients included:
Shortness of breath
And in some cases, mild to moderate cases of gastrointestinal illness included:
CASES IN THE UK
According to News Medical Life Sciences, “Experts are now calling for every e-cigarette-related health problem to be recorded in a national system. The use of e-cigarettes has already been banned in India, Brazil, Thailand and Singapore.Two hundred health problems were recorded in 74 separate “Yellow Card” reports filed with the MHRA by healthcare professionals and members of the public.The data has been released following accusations that officials have been downplaying the risk of vaping-related illnesses “spreading” from the US to Britain.”
Stanton Gantz, Director of the Center for Tobacco Control and Education at the University of California says,
“Dismissing vaping-related lung disease as “an American phenomenon,” is simply wrong, to argue that the health effects being observed somehow stop at the water line when you move on to the British Isles is silly.”
According to a case in The British Journal, In 2016 a 34-year-old woman in Birmingham, UK was admitted to hospital with symptoms of a fever, night sweats, dyspnoea on exertion and was in respiratory failure when admitted to hospital. She was diagnosed with lipoid pneumonia and was advised to stop vaping as an E-cig component vegetable glycerine was identified as the cause.
Archives of Disease in childhood has published a case study on Ewan Fisher a 16-year-old boy in the UK of a Life-threatening hypersensitivity pneumonitis secondary to e-cigarettes. The doctors said,
“Flavoured e-cigarettes liquids contain airway irritants and toxicants such as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, and many different flavouring chemicals that have been implicated in the pathogenesis and worsening of lung diseases, and that likely induce respiratory effects not seen in tobacco smokers.”
“There are two important lessons here. The first is always to consider a reaction to e-cigarettes in someone presenting with an atypical respiratory illness. The second is that we consider e-cigarettes as ‘much safer than tobacco’ at our peril.”
“It’s not absolutely clear what has happened here, but it looks like an allergy to an inhaled substance. There have been a very small number of cases of this condition reported in vapers worldwide, so I think we can conclude that it happens but is thankfully very rare. This is worrying, and the risk needs to be acknowledged, but in absolute terms it is extremely small – and, crucially, far smaller than that of smoking. The advice remains the same: if you smoke, switch to vaping; if you don’t smoke, don’t vape.”
Terry Miller aged 57 dies in 2010 after developing lipoid pneumonia and doctors said oil from vaping fluid was found in his lungs.His widow says “Public Health England does not have the evidence to back up its claim about the safety of e-cigarettes, which are used by 3million people in Britain, and claims more research into side-effects is needed urgently.”
“Inhaling a vapour many times a day for decades is unlikely to come without some sort of adverse effect and time will tell what that will be. It would be better avoided, but from the smoker’s perspective it is a far better bet than carrying on smoking tobacco.”
John Britton was correct about an adverse effect from inhaling vapour, but it didn’t take decades. Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of understanding with this product and nobody knows for certain the repercussions that will follow.
“Studies suggest that the base components of vaping fluid – propylene glycol and glycerin – are producing chemical reactions when mixed with flavour additives that leave oil droplets on the lungs, which may mean that even those who do not vape THC (the main active ingredient of cannabis) and vitamin E acetate, are at risk.”
“So, most things in life carry a risk, so for example driving cars, cars cause lots of road accidents, lots of people killed on the roads, but we don’t stop people driving, we try to make them less harmful. So, harm reduction is about enabling people to continue doing that thing but doing it in a less harmful way.”
Putting Ann’s questionable comparison of “cars causing road accidents” with smoking tobacco cigarettes aside…My question is, should we be concentrating all of our efforts on “harm reduction” concerning cigarettes? Where will it end if we keep replacing one product with “a less harmful” product. What happens if concrete undeniable evidence is found that Vaping causes serious damage to our health? Will another product come on the market claiming, “less harm” and a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes and vaping?What about focusing on Eradication? Speaking from personal experience I know how difficult it is to stop smoking, it takes away your control, you become a slave to a cigarette, conventional or otherwise, they are both the same, you take up one to get off the other.
Cigarettes are not a hardcore addiction that society would have you believe. It is a habit formed for many at a very early age, but one that can be overcome and eradicated like any other habit. Cigarettes (now vaping) are habitual crutches that have been used from early teens. They have been in a person’s life through all the ups and downs, celebrations and commiserations, never letting the person down.We are not dealing with heroin or crack cocaine where your body develops a physical and psychological dependence on it. You do not go to rehab to get clean, nor does your body break down from a lack of nicotine in your body. You do not have to go to the pharmacy where they will hand you out a little package of nicotine to get you through your withdrawal symptoms like they do with methadone for heroin addicts. In fact, in some nicotine replacements that are there to help you to stop smoking there is actually more nicotine in them than there ever was in cigarettes, so try and work that one out.
You have the power inside yourself to stop smoking and to stop vaping. Empower yourself and say no more, I DON’T NEED THIS. Once you make that decision you have already taken back the control that was once enslaving you. There is no shame in asking for help and seeking out a professional that will support you through this transition. There was a time when you didn’t smoke and although that may have been a long time ago, you didn’t need it then and you don’t need it now.
- Annual review of Public HealthUniversity of Pittsburgh research
- The National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine
- PHE publishes independent expert e-cigarettes evidence review
- Vaping in England: evidence update summary February 2019
- Stanton A. Glantz PhD
- Archives of Disease in childhood
- Prof. Ann McNeill
- The British Journal
- John Britton Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at Nottingham University
- Medical news today (inflammation)
- News Medical Life Sciences
- Stanton Gantz
- Royal College of Physicians
- Ann McNeil Professor of Tobacco Addiction at King’s College London
- Prof John Britton, Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies and Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, University of Nottingham,
- Rare lung disorder from vaping
- What is vitamin-e-acetate
- Vaping linked to over 200 health problems in the UKCDC.Gov