Over one billion people smoke worldwide, despite countless studies that report the harmful effects of smoking to our health. Smoking leads to approximately 1.5 millions premature deaths per year. With this number in mind, innovators came up with new ways to help smokers reduce their smoke, tobacco and nicotine intake, in order to help reduce the number of deaths caused by smoking each year.
From this came nicotine patches, nicotine gum, e-cigarettes and shisha sticks. All of these products have helped smokers to quit smoking, and help them lead healthier lifestyles. Each person is unique, and may find that one product works better for them than others.
However, when new products are created many questions are (and should be) asked. What is inside an e-cigarette or a shisha stick? What chemicals do you inhale? What about second hand smoke? Is it really any less harmful to your health? Could vaping be a gateway to smoking tobacco cigarettes for non-smokers?
The contents of an e-cigarette or shisha stick are usually a flavoured propylene glycol e-liquid (which can be with or without nicotine). If you smoke nicotine free shisha sticks, such as Mist shisha sticks, you are inhaling water vapour and propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is found in foods such as ice cream and cookies, and is deemed safe to consume.
As you are only inhaling water vapour, there is no risk of second hand smoke. The cloud of vapour that is released upon exhalation is not harmful to those around you.
A study conducted by Public Health England (PHE) concluded that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than cigarettes. While they aren’t completely risk free they are significantly better for your health than smoking tobacco cigarettes. The study also found that there is currently no evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes and shisha sticks are a gateway to smoking for non-smokers. In fact, almost everyone from the study currently using e-cigarettes and shisha sticks are current or ex-smokers, and have found vaping has led them to reduce their reliance on nicotine or cigarettes. Another study conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US also found that most people currently using vaping devices are current or former smokers. However, those vaping devices that do contain nicotine and are being used by non-smokers can lead to an addiction to nicotine that was not previously an issue.
What was a cause for concern from the PHE study was that many people believed e-cigarettes to be just as harmful to your health as tobacco cigarettes. There are many uncertainties about the long-term effects of vaping, Cancer Research UK are funding studies to try to answer some of these questions.
Studies that have been conducted in recent years agree that vaping devices are significantly less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, and should be seen as a successful way to combat the impacts that tobacco smoking has on consumers and those around them. Those that use them are generally current or ex-smokers, and have helped play a large part in the reduction of tobacco smoking for many users.
As with all products, they are not without risk, but vaping is clearly safer for you than traditional tobacco or shisha smoking.