Smoking has been around for centuries, but only within the last decade has a new alternative to the age old habit begun to take the world by storm. You may have heard the term “vaping”, or seen a vape on the shelf or advertised on a website. Despite all the recent publicity it has received, you may still feel like you are in the dark on this subject. Do not worry, and keep reading to learn more about this popular new trend.
What is Vaping?
You may have asked yourself at one point “What is a vape?”
E-Cigarettes or “vapes”
- “Vape” is another term for an electronic cigarette (or e-cigarette). According to Rachel Grana, PhD, MPH, Neal Benowitz, MD, and Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, “Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are products that deliver a nicotine-containing aerosol (commonly called vapor) to users by heating a solution typically made up of propylene glycol or glycerol (glycerin), nicotine, and flavoring agents.”
- The Oxford English Dictionary recently added “vape” to the dictionary, actually naming it Word of the Year for 2014, with the definition “Inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device.”
- The Independent, a UK based news source, cited the Oxford experts as saying “A gap emerged in the lexicon, as a word was needed to describe this activity, and distinguish it from ‘smoking’.”
- Vapes come in many different forms.
- Vapor Cigarettes, which bear close resemblance to a traditional white and tan cigarette.
- Vape pens, which are long, stylized tubes that bear close resemblance to a fancy pen.
- Cloud vape pens, which are thicker than other vape pens, and connect to a differently styled inhalation device.
- Even more. Human creativity appears to be boundless, and designs for vapes are no exception.
Vaping vs Smoking
- Grana, Benowitz, and Glantz state that “E-cigarettes are marketed via television, the Internet, and print advertisements (that often feature celebrities) as healthier alternatives to tobacco smoking, as useful for quitting smoking and reducing cigarette consumption, and as a way to circumvent smoke-free laws by enabling users to ‘smoke anywhere.’”
The History of Vaping
As you may surmise from the way that vaping has only recently begun to enter the news, vaping has not been around for long. Curiously, though, the vapor cigarette is one of those rare items that has been invented not once, but twice, on separate sides of the globe.
- A little known fact is that the first electronic cigarette was invented in the 1960s. An article on E-cig.org states that “in 1963, Herbert A. Gilbert filed his patent on a smokeless non-tobacco cigarette. Two years later his patent was accepted. The whole patent issue becomes somewhat complicated when you consider new technology and different designs, but what is clear is that 46 years ago Herbert submitted the idea of a smokeless cigarette to the United States Patent Office.”
- That same article has images of his original designs, and a 1965 article from Popular Mechanics that mentions his creation. Another article mentions that “Between 1965 and 2000, there were several more patents filed for electronic cigarette-esque products, but none really took off until Hon Lik had a dream in 2000.”
- The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) tells us that the current, modern form of the cloud vape pen was developed in “Beijing, China by Hon Lik, a 52 year old pharmacist, inventor and smoker. He reportedly invents the device after his father, also a heavy smoker, dies of lung cancer. The company Lik worked for, Golden Dragon Holdings, developed the device and changed their name to Ruyan, which means ‘like smoke.’”
- Hon Lik is quoted as saying that “The idea of the electronic cigarettes came to me in a dream in 2000. Coughing and wheezing, I imagined I was drowning, until suddenly the waters around me lifted into a fog.”
- Patent registration shows us that his first patent was filed in 2004, when he first introduced the modern vape into the Chinese market.
World wide spread of vaping
- The CASAA documents the worldwide spread of vapes, showing that by 2006, the electronic cigarette had begun sale in Europe. By early 2007, vapes were being sold in the United States of America.
- Additional information from the CASAA shows that governmental protests and attempts at banning vapes began as early as 2008, when “Turkey’s Health Ministry bans the sale and importation of e-cigarettes.” Countries all over the world, including the US, Canada, Hong Kong and Australia, join in the banning.
- The CASAA further documents that the legal battle around vaping rages on today in many parts of the world. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States lowered the ban in April of 2011, when it announced that “FDA announces it will regulate e-cigarettes as it currently regulates traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products under the Food Drug and Cosmetics Act. However, any e-cigarette products advertising claims of helping the user to stop smoking or providing any other health benefit will be more strictly regulated as a drug or medical device.”
Vaping vs. Smoking
With the conflict that has occurred over the nature of electronic cigarettes, it makes one wonder “is vaping safe, or is vaping bad for you?” As it is a new field of study, the jury is still out on that topic. However, there have been several different studies which can answer a lot of questions. So far, results appear to conclude that vaping is less dangerous than smoking. Following are some pertinent facts about the difference between smoking and vaping side effects.
One of the largest arguments over vaping, and its relationship to conventional smoking, is on the dangers inherent in its ingredients.
- Regular cigarettes contain a wide variety of dangerous chemicals. The National Cancer Institute states that tobacco smoke contains over 7000 chemicals, of which “at least 250 are known to be harmful, including hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and ammonia.” Additionally, at least 69 of these chemicals have been shown to cause cancer, including Arsenic, Benzene, Beryllium (a toxic metal), 1,3–Butadiene (a hazardous gas), Cadmium (a toxic metal), Chromium (a metallic element), Ethylene oxide, Nickel (a metallic element), Polonium-210 (a radioactive chemical element), and Vinyl chloride, among other suspected chemicals.
- In fact, Richard O’Connor, with the US National Library of Medicine, stated that “Tobacco use is projected to kill 1 billion people during the 21st Century. While the majority will likely be killed by their use of cigarettes, tobacco use in other forms contributes to worldwide morbidity and mortality.”
- On the other hand, vape juice, or the liquid component which is converted into vapor in an electronic cigarette, does not contain the vast majority of the chemicals of a regular cigarette. Richard O’Connor stated “On the one hand, nicotine delivered by vapor with few known toxicants should theoretically carry relatively low risks, particularly when compared to cigarettes. The limited data available suggests that the products are not likely to approach the health hazards of cigarettes.” He does go on to admit a few concerns about them. “However, significant concerns exist with the purity of ingredients employed, device functionality and quality control, the ease with which devices can be modified by users, and the general lack of oversight in manufacturing or marketing.”
Side effects on the user
Smoking has many dangerous side effects for the body, but with what data researchers have on vapes, electronic cigarettes are actually less dangerous.
- Firstly, cigarettes have plenty of health risks. The National Cancer Institute states that “Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and diminishes a person’s overall health.” Also, that “Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and death from cancer. It causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia.” These are just a few of the many health hazards that smoking holds.
- On the other hand, vape liquid generally contains only nicotine and other aforementioned ingredients. A report from the Addiction journal stated that “Adverse events (AEs) were mild to moderate and included symptoms such as mouth and throat irritation and dry cough.” The most dangerous side effect that they showed was “An increase in blood pressure, a potentially more concerning effect, was reported by 2% of correspondents.” The only other dangers they found were potential choking hazards from small components, or possible burning caused by a malfunction of the electronic devices.
Side effects on bystanders
One of the longest running protests against smoking is the concept of secondhand smoke, which can affect those around smokers who do not choose to take on the risks associated with smoking.
- The American Cancer Society has specifically stated that “Sidestream smoke has higher concentrations of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) and is more toxic than mainstream smoke. And, it has smaller particles than mainstream smoke. These smaller particles make their way into the lungs and the body’s cells more easily. When non-smokers are exposed to SHS it’s called involuntary smoking or passive smoking. Non-smokers who breathe in SHS take in nicotine and toxic chemicals by the same route smokers do. The more SHS you breathe, the higher the level of these harmful chemicals in your body.”
- With vapes, there is much less danger of this. Hajek, Etter, Benowitz, Eissenberg, and McRobbie, all with the Addiction journal, stated in regards to secondhand vapor: “Most second-hand smoke from cigarettes is generated as sidestream smoke from the tip. EC (electronic cigarettes) do not generate sidestream aerosol. It is only what is exhaled by the users that enters the ambient air. EC aerosol does not include most of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke or the ‘sidestream’ smoke, but users exhale nicotine and some other particles, primarily consisting of flavours, aroma transporters, glycerol and PG (propylene glycol).”
What Makes it So Popular?
As you can see from the data above, vaping is much more popular because it is considered safer, and is an alternative to regular smoking and all of its dangers. In fact, the Addiction journal’s report showed that of surveyed individuals, “Users reported consistently that EC helped them either to quit smoking (42–99%) or to reduce it (60–86%).”
Not only this, but vaping is already very widespread. With the ease offered by internet sales, vaped cigarettes can be purchased from your own home through a variety of distributors, such as Got Vape.
With relative safety and health, ease of access, and a simple way to reduce or quit smoking, vapes have earned their popularity among users.