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The unknowns of vaping

Using a vape can help you when you’re quitting smoking, and vaping is thought to be up to 95% healthier than smoking cigarettes. But there’s so much we don’t know about vaping. Here’s what that means. 

Vaping has become a popular way of quitting smoking, and for good reason. They’re very successful in helping you kick the habit as they’re like cigarettes in feel, can help you deal with difficult nicotine cravings, and they’re thought to be up to 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes.  

People who quit cigarettes by switching to e-cigarettes as well as receiving face-to-face support are up to twice as likely to successfully quit smoking according to an NHS review conducted in 2021.  

But e-cigarettes are a fairly new invention, with the vapes we’re familiar with today being developed in 2003 (although incredibly, the first patent for a vape-like device was filed in 1927). Vaping isn’t considered to be risk free, but we do know that it’s significantly safer than smoking cigarettes. 

That means switching to vaping is a better choice than continuing to smoke cigarettes, but we don’t advise people who have never smoked cigarettes before to take up vaping.  

The negative side effects of vaping 

You may have heard that there have been lung injuries and deaths associated with vaping in the US, but that doesn’t necessarily mean vaping will lead to lung injuries. These cases were among people who modified their vaping devices in ways not recommended by the manufacturer and involved the use of unmoderated ‘black market’ vaping liquid.  

So-called ‘popcorn lung’ is a rare lung disease often attributed to vaping, but this association has been debunked by organisations like Cancer Research UK. Popcorn lung is caused by a build-up of scar tissue on the lungs and was given its name thanks to a group of popcorn factory workers who developed the condition after breathing in a chemical called diacetyl, which was used to flavour popcorn.  

Diacetyl used to be used in vape liquid, but it was banned in the UK back in 2016, so no e-liquids currently sold in the UK contain diacetyl. What’s more, there were never any confirmed cases of popcorn lung caused by e-cigarettes. E-liquids in the US may still contain diacetyl, which is where many horror stories about vaping and lung problems come from.  

If you use your vaping device as directed by the manufacturer, and you buy legitimate vape liquid that’s licensed for sale in the UK (that covers everything you can buy in shops and reputable online stores), you don’t need to worry unnecessarily.   

There’s a lot of research still to be done into vaping, but as research so far has found that it’s a safe way of quitting cigarettes, if it helps you live a cigarette free life there’s no reason not to give it a go. 

Quitting vaping 

Using an e-cigarette is, as we’ve mentioned, a great way of weaning yourself off cigarettes. Once you’ve become comfortable with using an e-cigarette as a replacement for cigarettes, it may be time to start thinking about quitting vaping.  

This may sound daunting, but if you’ve managed to quit cigarettes you can quit vaping too. This doesn’t have to be a quick process, and you can vape for as long as it helps you.  

A lot of people come to realise that as helpful as e-cigarettes are, they become a replacement for cigarettes and some of their unhealthy behaviours return (such as smoking too much or spending too much money on vaping liquids and accessories).  

If this sounds familiar, you can get help to quit vaping in the same way you quit smoking. One feature of vaping that may make it easier to quit is that you can control how much nicotine you’re vaping by using vape liquids with different nicotine contents. This means you can gradually reduce your nicotine intake, which helps massively with nicotine withdrawal and cravings. 


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