Friday, 21 July 2017

Vaping vs Smoking

As a smoking cessation practitioner I am frequently asked the question; what is better for your health, smoking or vaping?

The latest research shows that in the short term, vaping is 95% better for health than smoking tobacco. This is real evidence based research coming from UCL and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They measured the toxins and cancer creating carcinogens in breathe, saliva and urine samples of 181 participants and found vaping to be far healthier. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2017/02February/Pages/Long-term-vaping-far-safer-than-smoking-says-landmark-study.aspx.

However, what is not unclear is the long term effects of vaping - we don't know how the constant use of vaping will affect people in ten, fifteen or twenty years as vaping has not been around that long, it will take time to be certain. What complicates matters is the use of the many different flavourings in vapes.

'Popcorn lung' has already discovered http://www.lung.org/about-us/blog/2016/07/popcorn-lung-risk-ecigs.html so who is to say there are not more potential problems out there? In the UK the latest regulations, as of May 2017, are designed to protect the public from unsafe chemicals or machines, the foreign imports that could be poorly made and even explode (as happened to one unlucky man in the US). http://cigelectric.co.uk/tpd-vaping-laws-uk-2017-regulations/

As a short term tool to help quit smoking I think the vape can be excellent. However I have been told by patients that vaping gives them a dry, tickly cough and they simply could not continue. Others say that it is more addictive than smoking because you can pick it up and inhale at the touch of a button. At the moment vaping is permitted in most buildings and cars so it is very user friendly compared to tobacco.

Long term is a different story. I would be wary of switching one crutch for the permanent use of another. There may be dangers currently unknown, we don't know. We do know it's addictive.

For me the best policy is to aim for zero dependence upon nicotine. Why be a slave to something that has so few benefits and so many negative consequences? Using nicotine replacement therapy typically you begin with a high dose of products and gradually work down to nothing. Using the vape to quit I would suggest the same. There is also Varenicline/Champix, which I was told by a Champix rep to have a 63% global quit rate following a course of 12 week treatment, which was favourable to the testing done on nicotine replacement therapy. https://patient.info/health/varenicline-champixr

If you wish to go chemical free, cold turkey, there are various support groups and therapies out there to assist you upon the journey, including of course hypnotherapy, which can be used to compliment the above medications to maximise chances of a permanent quit.