Vaping is no better than smoking

Phillipa Mukome-Chinhoi

Vaping is trending among youths as the in thing worldwide including our country Zimbabwe.
Some people believe vaping is safer than smoking. However, this is not necessarily the case.

Although vaping water may seem a safer alternative to nicotine e-liquids, it carries some risks.

Vaping involves breathing in an aerosol that contains several chemicals, including nicotine and flavouring, through an e-cigarette or other device.

Some flavours may smell like strawberries, grapes, pineapples, and vanilla.

Neither smoking nor vaping is beneficial to human health. Based on the available evidence, smoking appears more harmful than vaping.

However, this does not mean that vaping is safe.

Speaking to journalists during an Ask Me Informative Session on Tobacco Harm Reduction, Clive Bates, director of action on Smoking and Health UK, said current public health efforts were driving people into adopting harmful smoking practices.

“Overall smoking rates in Africa remain low by international comparisons, with a prevalence of 8.4 percent across the continent. While smoking prevalence is relatively low on the African continent, the World Health Organisation (WHO) further states that the number of tobacco users in Africa will increase to 62 million, of whom 51 million will be smoking combustible tobacco by the year 2025.

“The increase will largely be driven by the significant population growth the continent is experiencing as well as growing stress levels. The rest of the world, however, is expected to experience a decrease in smoking prevalence, “said Bates.

WHO data shows that at least 8 million smokers continue to die from smoking-related diseases on an annual basis, while one million non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke also die from passive smoking.

“When people switch to these products, they are exposed to much lower levels of all the toxicants that we know are harmful and associated with smoking. Either the toxicants are too low to detect or the levels are very much lower but generally, the studies find that there is a very much lower toxic burden and in some cases right down to the same level as non-smokers to people who quit completely,” he said.

Bates further said when people smoke, what they really want is the nicotine and the experience of the chemical.

However, contrary to the popular belief that nicotine is the disease-causing agent in tobacco, Bates said nicotine was not among these carcinogens tobacco, but toxins produced during combustion have a negative effect on public health.

“People smoke nicotine but die from the tar. People are smoking as a nicotine-seeking behaviour. The demand for nicotine is very strong. People want nicotine whether we like it or not. This is where technology comes in because we now have a range of products that can give people nicotine but without the tar, without the combustion, and without the smoke. Smoking is the inhalation of the products of combustion,” he said.

Chitungwiza Central Hospital general practitioner, Dr Willard Muza said e-cigarettes could contain a large dose of nicotine which is highly addictive causing quiet a number or health complications like high blood pressure and heart problems.

He said too much burden on the arteries may lead one to be amputated.

“There is also carbon monoxide which largely affects the flow of oxygen in the body leading too many complications,” said Dr Muza.

“My advice to the youth is that they should stop vaping because in the long run the effects can be very fatal,” he said.

The liquid that creates the vapour is dangerous to adults and children if they swallow, inhale, or get it on their skin.

“Vaping delivers dangerous chemicals which are cancer-causing hence its critical for one to even start smoking the vape,” he said.
Some of the girl who vape said it was better than using cigarettes.

A Harare girl Jane Simbi (not her real name) who was vaping said this method does not pollute or smell the mouth like cigarette burners.

“I feel cool and relaxed when I smoke this mist. My mouth does not smell but there is flavour of fruits which I inhale,” she said.

“I don’t know yet the extent of it but I see it as lighter than a tobacco cigarette burner which contains too much tar, “she said.

According to WHO May 2020 reports, there are many different types of e-cigarettes in use, also known as electronic nicotine delivery systems and sometimes electronic non-nicotine delivery systems.

These systems heat a liquid to create aerosols that are inhaled by the user.

These so-called e-liquids may or may not contain nicotine (but not tobacco) but also typically contain additives, flavours and chemicals that can be toxic to people’s health.

Smoking causes damage to every organ in the body, an increased risk of death, and an increased risk of developing health conditions, such as heart disease and stroke

Vaping and smoking share similar negative effects on the body, such as damage to the lungs and increased cancer risk.

However, while vape products can reduce the amount of tar and other chemicals a person inhales, they can increase a person’s nicotine dependency.

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