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Thursday 21 September 2023 Dublin: 13°C
Shutterstock/Oleg Baliuk
# smoke n mirrors
Giving up cigarettes? Vaping might not be the solution
Make sure you’re aware of the possible risks before taking up e-cigarettes.


Viewing vaping as an alternative to cigarettes has had quite a bit of success in 2016. But there’s also been quite a bit of back and forth over whether they’re actually a safer option for those wanting to quit smoking.

The battery-powered devices heat a liquid containing nicotine into a vapor that is inhaled, removing a lot of chemicals and tar that cause so many health problems.

Action on Smoking and Health Ireland (Ash) recently came out against vaping as a solution, saying that quitters should use patches or gum instead.

“Some people say they do help them but we don’t think that the evidence is strong enough for us to support them and there are concerns about their longterm safety,” Dr Pat Doorley of Ash told the Sunday Independent.

Gillian Golden, administrator of Irish Vape Vendors Association, said that they were disappointed that Ash don’t want smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, saying that the decision was based on “ideological positions that are not in step with current evidence”.

Several other international bodies, most notably the World Health Organisation, have also discouraged use of vaping products and recommended that smokers who are looking to quit instead stick to alternative nicotine replacements such as patches, lozenges and gums.

shutterstock_219240241 Shutterstock / flydragon Shutterstock / flydragon / flydragon

A very recent study published just before Christmas tested the effects of two varieties of e-cigarette vapour on gum cells and found that those exposed to the vapour (rather than just air) showed greater effects of inflammation and harm.

Popular with the public

Although the long term health risks associated with e-cigarettes isn’t known because they haven’t been around long enough to test, a report by the Royal College of Physicians suggested that the negative effects are unlikely to exceed 5% of those associated with smoked tobacco products, and may well be substantially lower than that.

A study in September suggested that e-cigarettes helped some 18,000 smokers in England kick the tobacco habit in 2015.

The survey-based study was not a clinical trial, which means the link between vaping and the number of people who quit smoking is not set in stone, but it does hint at the positive perception and public acceptance of e-cigarettes.

shutterstock_284098082 Shutterstock / Oleg Baliuk Shutterstock / Oleg Baliuk / Oleg Baliuk

That popularity is also part of the worry – about one in six US high school students say they have used e-cigarettes in the past month, and there are fears that instead of encouraging young people to quit, it’s will be the cause of their addiction.

The government is considering restricting the sale of e-cigarettes in Ireland, which, according to Vape Business Ireland would mean “that vaping products would no longer be a viable alternative to smoking”.

So before you decide to vape, make sure you’re aware of the negatives as well as the positives and all the many unknowns that are involved with e-cigarettes.

With reporting from AFP and Fora

Read: New research suggests e-cigarettes could be harmful to gums

Read: Irish vape businesses are already mobilising against any planned e-cigarette ban

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