Debunking E-cigarette Myths
With many polarising views and media sources regularly reporting a wide variety of stories on vaping and e-cigarettes, a number of myths have grown in popularity in the last few years.
This blog considers all the up-to-date facts around e-cigarettes and vaping, clearing up many common misconceptions and even considering the probable sources for these myths.
MYTH 1 - E-cigarettes can cause "popcorn" lung
Believed to have originated due to buttery flavouring e-liquids in some cases including the chemical ingredient diacetyl. Over-exposure to which can cause serious lung diseases.
In the UK however, diacetyl is a strictly banned ingredient in the e-cigarette market meaning that the chances of exposure cannot be attributed to e-cigarettes.
MYTH 2 - E-cigarettes aren’t subject to regulations
Due to being relatively new technology, many believe that the e-cigarette market is unregulated as law looks to catch up with technology advancement.
This is not true. Through the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, the e-cigarette market is subject to some of the strictest quality and safety standards in the world. Similarly, all new products must be registered with the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) along with a list of all their ingredients and technology involved.
MYTH 3 - E-cigarettes contain nicotine so are harmful to your health
Almost half of ex and current smokers believe that nicotine is responsible for causing smoking-related cancer.
This is not the case. Although nicotine is the most common reason for people becoming addicted to smoking, it is the many other chemical ingredients in cigarette smoke that are likely to cause harm to your health. The two most harmful substances, tar or carbon monoxide, are not contained in e-cigarette vapour whilst other chemicals are found at much lower levels.
MYTH 4 - E-cigarette vapour is harmful to bystanders
As passive smoking is known to be harmful to bystanders, it is commonly assumed that passive vaping will have the same consequences.
As e-cigarette liquid commonly contains just nicotine, glycerine/propylene glycol and flavourings however, there are no identified health risks as concluded in a recent review(1).
MYTH 5 - E-cigarettes encourage smoking among young people
As a new technology, many people believe that e-cigarettes pose a growing trend which will lead to young people taking up smoking.
Although PHE reports have shown that experimental e-cigarette use amongst young people is increasing, regular use and continuation are declining(2).
MYTH 6 - E-cigarettes are used by the tobacco industry to keep people smoking
It has been believed that e-cigarettes have been a technology designed and developed to encourage the continuation of smoking. This is due to the similarities of using both products.
Recent research(3) contradicts this however with roughly three quarters of e-cigarette users having stopped smoking completely. Roughly a quarter of this number then went on to stop using e-cigarettes as well.
MYTH 7 - E-cigarettes don't help you quit smoking
Some people hold the belief that e-cigarettes don't encourage users to quit smoking altogether, but rather switch people to another format (sometimes temporarily).
However, this has again proven to not be the case. Results from a clinical trial(4) suggest that e-cigarettes can be up to twice as effective in helping smokers to quit in comparison to alternative methods such as patches and gum.
Ultimately, e-cigarettes and regular tobacco cigarettes are very different products. Many of the common issues surrounding tobacco cigarettes do not apply to e-cigarettes but it’s essential to consider all possibilities from reliable sources and make an informed decision when thinking about switching to a vaping product.
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(1) PHE’s evidence review (2018): Public Health Matters | Public Health England | Link
(2) Young People's Use of E-Cigarettes across the United Kingdom (2015-2017): L.Bauld et al. | Five Surveys | Link
(3) Use of e-cigarettes among adults in Great Britain (2018): Ash Smokefree GB | Action On Smoking Health | Link
(4) A Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy (2019): Prof P.Hajek et al. | Queen Mary University of London | Link