When cigarettes were first introduced a century ago, makers claimed that smoking was harmless, similar to the claims of e-cigarette sellers today. Several decades later, cigarette use has been proven to cause cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and other health hazards. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable morbidity in the U.S., claiming more than 480,000 lives annually.
Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Not only is the nicotine in e-cigarettes highly addictive, it also has potential harmful vascular and neurologic effects. Although vaping is promoted as being a smoking cessation aid, there is no proof of it being an effective method.
“In other words, one addiction is being replaced by another,” wrote Dr. M. P. Ravindra Nathan of the Hernando Heart Clinic in Brooksville, Fla., in a Tampa Bay Times health news article.
When one 62-year-old patient visited Dr. Nathan’s office for a follow-up after recently being hospitalized for a mini-stroke, he complained of memory problems, with chart notations from his neurologist advising that he was showing some signs of vascular dementia. When Dr. Nathan questioned the patient about his smoking habits, the patient responded, “I used to … up to a pack and a half a day for the past 35 years, but I quit. Now I smoke only e-cigarettes.”
Dr. Nathan warned the patient that vaping hasn’t shown to be any better for his health than smoking traditional cigarettes.
“Really!” the patient said. “I thought I could replace the cigarettes with e-cigarettes. Aren’t they harmless? I thought this would help me quit my smoking habit.”
The patient’s misconception about vaping is a common one. But e-cigarette liquids have been found to contain chemicals such as benzene, diacetyl, formaldehyde and other carcinogenic compounds.
Diacetyl is a chemical that is added to flavorings to mimic the creamy taste of butter. It has been heavily linked to serious lung diseases such as bronchiolitis obliterans, better known as “popcorn lung” for the microwave popcorn factory workers that were diagnosed with the disease in the early 2000s. The only treatment for the disease is lung transplant.