Every day we see the stories about vaping health risks. But what is the reality?
Is vaping dangerous? Every day we see the stories, in newspapers and on television, about vaping health risks. Usually they’re centered on the study du jour. Maybe it’s a chemical today. Yesterday it was exploding batteries. Last week it was the increase in teenage vaping. Next month some new vaping danger will grab the headlines. But what is the reality? Do the risks of vaping outweigh the rewards?
The first thing to know is that for most users vaping is an alternative to the deadliest consumer product ever made: cigarettes. The vast majority of regular users of vapor products are ex-smokers or current smokers. Nothing compares to the health risks of setting plant material on fire and inhaling the smoke. Half of lifelong smokers die prematurely from smoking-related disease.
Those who have carefully considered all of the medical evidence — Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians — have concluded that the potential of serious vaping danger is probably very low. The RCP says vaping is “unlikely to exceed five percent of the harm from smoking tobacco.”
The title says the real dangers, but we’ll also look at all the things people point at when they claim vaping poses risks, which they do all the time. Why are they so bothered? Well, on a superficial level vaping looks like smoking, and that’s enough to scare a whole lot of people. Since there may be no real dangers, let’s say we’re exploring the potential dangers of vaping.
Understanding the real dangers
While many studies show some short-term effects on various physical functions, we haven’t seen evidence of long-term problems. Those who fear e-cigarettes say it’s just a matter of time before vapor starts causing real health problems, but most objective investigators aren’t convinced.
Toxins, carcinogens, chemicals
There are scary sounding chemicals in e-cig vapor, but they’re in tiny concentrations, far smaller than in tobacco smoke. Plus, you breathe and eat chemicals every day, but most of them don’t affect you.
The Royal College of Physicians agreed. In its comprehensive review of e-cigarette science, the College concluded, “In normal conditions of use, toxin levels in inhaled e-cigarette vapour are probably well below prescribed threshold limit values for occupational exposure, in which case significant long-term harm is unlikely.”
Coffee contains 22 known carcinogens and an addictive stimulant, but most people are quick to accept that the health risks it poses are minimal, because the levels of the toxicants are very low, and concern over a mild stimulant like caffeine would be wasted effort. Lucky for coffee, consuming it doesn’t require doing something that looks like smoking.
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