The science behind e-cigarettes

In recent years, the world has seen more and more smokers changing to e-cigarettes in an effort to try and quit smoking. Evidence is still developing on how successful they are as a quitting aid, but many people have found them helpful and a series of long-term studies looking into their health impacts are ongoing.

How do they work?

Unlike a regular cigarette, an electronic cigarette does not use combustion, and therefore results in no “smoke”. Instead, e-cigarettes heat nicotine (or nicotine free) e-liquids, which get converted into a vapour that is inhaled by the e-cigarette smoker or “vaper”. As e-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco, many of the harmful chemicals blamed for a variety of smoking-related diseases aren’t produced.

The e-cigarette is made up of only four compartments: the mouthpiece, which allows the user to inhale the vapour; the cartridge, where the e-liquid is stored; the atomiser, where the e-liquid is heated up and turned into a vapour, and the battery, which powers the device. Similarly, an e-liquid only needs to contain four ingredients: nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and the vaper’s choice of flavourings.

Is vaping healthier?

The science suggests e-cigarettes are safer than traditional smoking, as the vaping process does not produce the tar or carbon dioxide produced by burning tobacco, but vaping is not harmless and e-liquids often contain nicotine, although there are some e-liquids available with 0% nicotine content.. Evidence of the long-term health impact of vaping remains sparse, but those that switch from smoking cigarettes to vaping often report feeling in better health in the weeks and months that follow. However, medical professionals agree that doing neither would be the best option for a person’s health, and children especially are advised to not begin spoking or vaping at all.

Second-hand smoke?

Second-hand smoking – when you are exposed to smokers’ smoke – can be dangerous to those around smokers for long periods, and can cause long-term effects such as lung cancer, stroke, and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), as well as short-term effects like coughing and headaches. In fact, their chances of having one of the long-term effects are increased up to 30% just from being exposed to second-hand smoke. Is second-hand vapour bad for us too? There is no concrete evidence to prove that there are long-term effects from inhaling someone’s vape, but studies are still being carried out.

Is it effective?

Vape kits can be an effective way to help people stop smoking as vapers are able to gradually decrease the nicotine content in their e-liquids to zero over a long period of time. This reduces their dependence on the chemical and makes it more likely they succeed in kicking the habit.

If you are a smoker, the best thing to do for your health is to quit smoking altogether, but e-cigarettes can be a useful tool in achieving this goal.