- Elena Bailey and Philippa Roxby
- Health Correspondent
Disposable e-cigarettes seem to be growing in popularity, as they’re brightly colored, easy to use, and come in exciting flavors ranging from candy to blueberry.
These cigarettes are a big part of the government’s plan in England to help the remaining 6 million smokers quit in their traditional form by 2030.
But how safe are e-cigarettes, especially for young people who have never tried traditional cigarettes?
Izzy Esposito, 18, from Borehamwood, England, started vaping last summer after all her friends tried them, and now she smokes most of the time.
“I can just sit in bed and vape and Facetime with my friends at the same time,” she says.
“It’s always on hand, so you’re tempted to smoke it all the time.”
“I got to the point where I started using about two vapes a week.”
Easy recently had to stop using it after her gums started bleeding and she developed sores in her mouth and on her lips.
“I didn’t want to brush my teeth because the process seemed so painful after the bleeding and sores,” she says.
Disposable electronic cigarettes are the latest fad in the smoking world. It is cheaper than a pack of cigarettes and can be used immediately after purchase, and it can also be thrown away when finished.
Izzy is drawn to colors and flavors, and the fact that she can buy one to match her outfit that she wears every night with her friends.
She used to smoke occasionally on weekends, but finds vaping easier and more convenient.
“I smoke a lot more e-cigarettes than I have ever smoked, for example sometimes I smoke a whole one at a party or a night out with friends.”
E-cigarettes have helped thousands of people quit smoking and get rid of dangerous and toxic tobacco smoke, giving a huge health boost.
But e-cigarette vapor, which is still being researched and studied, may contain small amounts of chemicals, including nicotine, that could pose other risks scientists haven’t yet identified. identified.
There is also growing concern that young people are turning to e-cigarettes because they see them as completely safe.
Professor John Britton, Emeritus Professor at the University of Nottingham, UK, who advised the government on its latest smoking cessation report, said: “It is unreasonable to say that vaping is completely safe . No way, it’s crazy to start vaping.”
Professor Britton predicts that within 40 or 50 years we will see lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and other serious lung diseases as a result of vaping.
But these numbers are likely low and far lower than the health problems caused by traditional smoking.
And the latest data shows that most teens aren’t smokers – just 11% of those aged 11-17 tried e-cigarettes in 2021.
But new data for 2022 has not been released and some expect it to rise.
Research from University College London (UCL) estimates that there are 74,000 e-cigarette users aged 16-17 in England alone.
Another university study indicates that disposable e-cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular among 18-year-olds, more than half of whom now use these products.
“Young adults and teenagers may experience smoking from these e-cigarettes but they don’t become regular long-term users,” says Professor Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of ‘Edinburgh in Scotland.
And she adds that previously they tested it with traditional cigarettes, and that they could become smokers in adolescence, which would be a bigger problem and more harmful to their health, but despite this, more should be done. efforts to protect young people.
The UK has some of the strictest e-cigarette regulations in the world: almost all marketing of e-cigarettes is banned, the amount of nicotine in the product is limited, and only those aged 18 and over can legally purchase one.
Professor Bauld says: “It is important that we keep these e-cigarette products away from young people, as they are not suitable for them.”
“severe sore throat”
Megan Munday, 18, started using e-cigarettes to help her use fewer conventional cigarettes and found the flavors “addictive”.
She said the e-cigarettes made her barely able to speak and “I had such a sore throat that I felt like I was being stabbed in the throat when I swallowed”.
“It was so bad that I had to miss work because of it,” she says, and I had to stop using it.
Dentists say they notice some side effects of vaping, such as bad breath, sores, pain in certain areas, and dry mouth. This can lead to a lack of saliva and possibly tooth decay.
Bleeding gums can occur after people quit smoking as circulation improves, often around the same time they start vaping. This is an indication that the gums are returning to normal and is not necessarily a bad sign.
Dental experts say nicotine is unlikely to be a major factor in cancer or gum disease, at least that’s what is known so far.
Professor Richard Holliday, Lecturer and Honorary Consultant in Restorative Dentistry in Newcastle, England, said: “We are still in the research and observation phase and we don’t have all the answers but the results available. show that there is nothing to be overly concerned about.”
It may be more harmful
But despite reviews that underestimate the potential risks of e-cigarettes, many feel uneasy and disagree with these reviews.
David Thickett, professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Birmingham, is concerned about the effects of high doses of nicotine entering the lungs through vaping.
Although nicotine gum and patches have been used for many years to relieve cravings for cigarettes, which are considered safe, they cannot be sure of the effect of nicotine in e-cigarettes.
“That means they’re potentially more harmful,” Prof Thickett says.
In a lab study, vaping was found to damage important immune system cells in the lungs and cause inflammation.
More research is needed on people who smoke e-cigarettes to confirm the results, but some of the effects were similar to those seen in regular smokers and people with chronic lung disease.
Professor Thickett warns that users do not always receive enough support to quit nicotine use after switching to e-cigarettes.
He concludes by saying that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes, but they can be harmful in the long term and research into them is still in its infancy.
Leave a Reply