The question of whether or not vaping is safe has been re-actualized recently, with numerous studies confirming that there are no significant short-term or long-term health hazards that can be linked to e-cigarette use. The public perception is also slowly changing – in 2015, nearly 37% of US survey respondents answered that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking, which is a marked improvement from 2011, when that percentage was only 11.5%.
Still, misleading research and clickbaity news headlines are muddying the waters, creating a perception that using e-cigarettes is not as safe as harm reduction advocates make it out to be.
Here’s just handful of headlines that brought vaping safety to question in 2017:
‘Teens Use E-Cigarettes for ‘Dripping, Study Says’
‘Vaping: The Latest Scourge In Drug Abuse’
‘Man’s Face Blown Up After E-Cigarette Explodes While He’s Smoking It’
It’s not difficult to see how that type of reporting could affect the public opinion, creating barriers for people who could benefit the most if they decided to switch to electronic cigarettes.
Although these bombastic headlines seem to be subsiding in the last few months, they did real damage over the course of the year. They’ve gotten people to question vaping safety and planted that little annoying question inside everyone’s head: ‘Is vaping safe enough for me to go for it?’
What Do Scientists Have To Say About Vaping Safety?
The short answer?
Vaping is relatively safe, at least in the short-term, which was confirmed by numerous studies in recent years. In fact, the Cochrane Library, a non-profit that looks at reliable studies, issued their E-cigarette Report in 2016, which concluded that there are no noticeable short-term adverse effects associated with vaping.
As for long-term health effects of vaping, we are now getting the results of the first studies designed to examine them. The findings of a recent 3.5 year-long study concluded that vaping is unlikely to cause a significant amount of damage to the human body – no damage to the lungs, heart, or other organs was found even in test subjects who heavily vaped.
Regardless of these positive results, a puzzle remains: are we really aiming for a 100% vaping safety? Is that even the right question we should be asking?
The Importance of Placing Vaping Safety In the Right Context
Talking about vaping safety is pretty pointless without the right benchmark. What we should all be interested in is whether or not vaping is safer when compared to smoking. None of us would ever recommend vaping to a non-smoker so why take the question out of context in the first place?
Certainly, vaping is not without risks – inhaling anything other than air was not something our lungs were designed to do. But, does vaping kill? Here’s a challenge for you: go to Google and try to find information about someone whose death can be attributed to regular, common sense vaping.
Guess what? You won’t find it. However, google ‘woman struck by meteorite’ and you will find this article from the 1950s about a woman who was minding her own business in the comforts of her home before being injured by a rock from outer space.
E-Juice Ingredients Safety: PG, VG, Flavorings, and Nicotine
Although the above-mentioned studies clearly answer the question of vaping safety, taking a look at the safety of all the moving parts involved in it is still needed, for thoroughness’ sake.
- Propylene Glycol – scientists have long ago determined that PG is relatively safe, even in its aerosol form, which is confirmed by several independent studies. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) did a study in relation to theatrical fog machines (which use PG) and found that PG doesn’t impair lung function or cause asthma. It does, however, act as a mild irritant of the upper respiratory system in some cases.
- Vegetable Glycerin – another base liquid used in almost all e-juices juices, VG can also act as a mild irritant, but only in very high quantities. Same as PG, it can cause dry throat and increased thirst, both of which can be resolved by drinking a lot of fluids, especially in your early vaping days. Although further inhalation studies are needed, VG is safely used in inhalants.
- Flavorings – all flavorings used in e-juices are food-grade, which means that they are used in food preparation and that you probably eat them every single day. However, very little research has been done in this area and it’s difficult to determine whether those same flavorings are safe for long-term inhalation.
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