Who wouldn’t already know about the harmful effects of smoking? Long gone are the days when it was recommended to smoke to bring in air to the lungs – by Dr’s orders, all the way back when our grand or great parents were young. We’re a lot smarter now……..or are we really?
With the hard evidence seeming obvious, many targeted health campaigns to curb numbers of new generations taking up the habit have been executed. The harmful effects on our lungs, heart disease and cancer have been ‘shouted out’ many times. It seems a new but very similar trend has emerged that on the surface maybe cool, cheap, and more socially acceptable but is more sinister than first thought by this young adult generation……. It’s called Vaping (e-cigarettes) if you haven’t heard!
It’s not smoking, maybe like it, but different……
Vaping: aka e-ciggs, electro-smoke, green cigs, or smart smoker by the varied urban names it is known by; appears to be on the rise. The latest Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) stats indicate 20% of Australian young adults are trying this new form of smoking.
So, what’s the difference? Vaping, unlike cigarettes doesn’t burn tobacco but heats up a manufactured liquid in a tailored device which can resemble a cigarette, a cigar or something quite novel like a USB stick or pen. The heating of this liquid creates a vapour that is inhaled into the lungs.
Safe Smoking? ……. Probably not
It’s prevalence as a trend and emerging habit has increased, yet nicotine containing devices with advertising and promotion of vaping products is banned in Australia. But with a plethora of different flavours on offer like apple or bubble gum, along with cheap novel devices that are seen as more socially acceptable…. why wouldn’t you be curious?
Behind these novel approaches and what might be pleasurable tastes is still much that is not understood regarding its potentially serious health effects.
Under existing Australian State and Territory laws, nicotine e-ciggs and liquid nicotine is illegal to sell to someone without a doctor’s prescription. However, this doesn’t guarantee e-ciggs sold under Australian law are nicotine free. The manufacture of vaping liquids is highly variable in quality. So, with suspect presence of nicotine, there is still potential for the practice to be addictive.
If you may be attracted to vaping there’s a concern that it normalises smoking per se and will act as a gateway to tobacco cigarettes. This counteracts a common argument currently prevalent that they can be used to help people quit smoking. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has yet to approve it as a ‘quit’ tool.
Even without the presence of nicotine, vaping products have not gone through stringent testing here in Australia to guarantee their safety. When you consider key ingredients like vegetable glycerine, an acceptable food additive that is considered safe in foods, it’s a different story when you’re repeatedly heating and inhaling it into your lungs. With the questionable manufacturing quality of these vaping liquids, some of them may contain even more harmful substances not disclosed.
The health effects are not pretty
The vape cloud you may breathe in coats your lungs. Recent evidence indicates that it can cause irritation which leads onto an inflammatory response. So, association with lung conditions such as Bronchitis and Pneumonia, and even with permanent scarring if this inflammation is prolonged, can lead to permanent breathing difficulties. Second hand vapour, just like passive smoking, could potentially lead to similar harmful effects……even for the long-term.
With irritation and inflammation comes the potential for coughing, even shortness of breath or chest pain. These respiratory symptoms experienced have been reported in Australia as well as Internationally.
Below the Belt issues and smoking
Recent research on smoking habits among young women indicates an increased risk of developing urinary leakage problems or even that symptoms can be made worse if you’re already dealing with issues. Things like urgency, frequency and overactivity. Although nicotine and other toxic substances contained within cigarettes are found to contribute to these significant symptoms, what is even more important to mention here in this context with the advent of vaping ………. Is that there may be no guarantee that these so-called green cigs can’t cause similar effects too!
With current trends and emerging but still significant information available about the effects of vaping, we all know further research is needed. However, when you weigh up the risks over the benefits, it does seem like someone else may be profiting from our willingness to experiment with our own bodies.
If you are currently vaping and experiencing any of the respiratory symptoms mentioned above, then please see your Medical Professional for further advice