Eliminating the side effects of vaping wasn’t the focus of the original e-cigarette invention, it was the consummate alternative to the cigarette.
The side effects of vaping began with an article in Popular Mechanics magazine in 1965. Inventor Herbert A. Gilbert filed the original patent for a smokeless, non-tobacco cigarette alternative on April 17, 1963 and was granted the patent in August of 1965.
The patent application describes the use of safe chemicals introduced into the lungs of willing users as an alternative to the those formed by burning tobacco and paper. It further describes the advantages of a tobacco free device, designed to deliver heated, moist, flavored air or medications.
Today the medication of choice is nicotine and the e-cigarette has evolved into a business that, just prior to 2016 FDA regulations was a 3.7 billion dollar annual industry. Over 195 patents referencing Gilbert’s original patent each with its own twist or modification have been filed to date. Its easy to see why, when the stakes are so high.
Is Vaping Safer Than Cigarettes?
The question of the day is how does vaping and e-cigarette usage compare to the cigarettes they emulate? According to a 2014 national high school survey of 12th graders, 14% of students report having used tobacco in the past 30 days while 17% report the use of e-cigarettes.
Quitting smoking has definite benefits and e-cigarette alternative is viewed by many as a major step in the right direction. Considering that three times as many smokers die from all causes as non-smokers in the 25-79 year age range, e-cigarettes are a plus.
A large portion, though not all of this difference, was due to cancer, vascular diseases, lung diseases and others, that in previous studies have shown can be caused by smoking. By quitting smoking you can add as many as 10 years to your life expectancy.
Eliminating the breathing of smoke from burning paper and leaves seems to be a no brainer. But, eliminating the nicotine connection takes more time.
Nicotine, added to e-cigarettes would seem to help those already addicted to cigarettes, reducing exposure to carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide. Both of which are lethal in high concentrations. But, recent studies show that the effectiveness of quitting is not as high as one would hope.
Long Term Side Effects Of Vaping
Nicotine is know to create a number of negative health effects. Long term exposure can lead to type 2 diabetes, but since it also reduces appetite, that tendency may be partially offset. Nicotine, inhaled from e-cigarettes rapidly boosts heart rate and blood pressure. A thermoscan of a vapor’s hand immediately before vaping and after will show the reduced blood flow and corresponding hand cooling within minutes.
Frequent nicotine exposure may also retard brain development in adolescents leading to attention deficit disorder and reduced impulse control.
The nicotine concern is not only for the teen e-cigarette user, but for children attracted to fruit flavorings and packaging. A Korean toddler died after accidentally ingesting liquid nicotine, after being comatose for 44 days. The autopsy showed irreversible brain damage from hypoxia or lack of oxygen.
Nicotine constricts blood vessels increasing blood pressure and restricting blood flow, depriving the brain of life giving oxygen.
Side Effects Of Vaping Without Nicotine
Not all users of e-cigarettes are after nicotine. With tobacco flavor to key-lime cucumber varieties, a seemingly endless string of combinations are available. Vapemagazine.com, devoted to the vape industry, is ad based and interviews vape industry business celebrities highlighting the positive side of the vaping business. Vape companies offer an extensive range of flavors such as Blu’s offerings of Peach Schnapps, Java Jolt, Vivid Vanilla, Cherry Crush, and Piña Colada.
The it’s like the ice cream franchises except it’s more like 71 flavors or more.
The Vape Side Effects May Be Temperature Related More Than Anything Else
The heating element in e-cigarettes provides the vapor that satisfies the vaper. The heater unfortunately requires temperatures of 200 degrees C. or 392 degrees F. which is comparable to the temperature of a moderately hot oven.
New, higher wattage e-cigarette varieties can boost the temperature even further to 250 degrees C. or 492 degrees F. Thats enough to set your favorite book on fire. Some like it hot, some may not. Comfort will likely dictate the ultimate settings of a vapes e-cigarette use.
At those temperatures, the chemicals often added to flavored e-cigarettes including diacetyl can decompose. Diacetyl, in particular, is associated with permanent damage to the tiny airways in the lungs called bronchioles.
The high temperatures may also change relatively harmless propylene glycol and glycerol additives to the toxic compounds of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein.
Therein lies the risk of e-cigarettes. Endless flavor possibilities with or without nicotine are a major attractant, like light to a moth.
Are E-Cigarettes Really Safer?
It would seem so, right now. But, that may only be because we do not have a data set as vast as that studied for tobacco products. There is no research on the temperature effects of vaping on teeth and gums yet. But, I would not expect them to be much different from conventional cigarettes. And the staining potential of teeth should be less with e-cigarettes also because of tar elimination.
The FDA lists 79 “harmful or potentially harmful” carcinogens in tobacco smoke and tobacco products.
Because tobacco manufacturers initially denied early adverse health data and conspired to conceal it until whistle-blowers revealed the truth, the FDA is concerned enough to try to regulate every aspects of the e-cigarette and vape industry. Will it be successful, and is it really necessary? Only time will tell.