By Jessica Ennis, for UCHealth
Thanks to clever marketing tactics, e-cigarettes (also called e-vaporizers) have become a popular alternative for cigarette smokers and are attracting new users who’ve never picked up a cigarette before.
According to Dr. Jeff Sippel, a pulmonologist in UCHealth’s Comprehensive Lung and Breathing Program who see patients for lung and respiratory conditions, explains why you should stop vaping — or never start.
Vaping is highly addictive
E-cigarettes contain nicotine just like traditional cigarettes, but it’s often available at higher concentrations.
“Vaping is as addictive to smoking cigarettes — if not more so — because of the nicotine concentration e-cigarette manufacturers are putting into their products,” Dr. Sippel says. “Vaping the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes could give you double the amount of nicotine.
“Another reason vaping is highly addictive is — unlike when you start smoking and contend with irritated lungs and the bad smell — e-cigarettes are available in a variety of flavors that smell really good and vaping doesn’t cause any lung discomfort.”
Vaping probably won’t help you quit smoking cigarettes
Many cigarette smokers turn to vaping when they’re looking to quit, but there are better options.
“Some studies show that vaping isn’t helping people quit smoking cigarettes and many of those people are now using more nicotine,” Dr. Sippel says. “There are several products people can try to help them quit smoking, in addition to other non-medical tools, instead of turning to vaping.”
He recommends the following smoking cessation aids instead:
Nicotine replacement products
Over the counter: nicotine gums, lozenges, patches
Prescription: nicotine patches, inhalers, nasal sprays
Non-nicotine prescription medications
Bupropion SR (Zyban®)
Varenicline tartrate (Chantix®)
Participating in cognitive behavior therapy
Creating a support system
“If you’re trying to quit smoking, speak with your provider and they can work with you to come up with a plan that to help you succeed that doesn’t involve vaping,” Dr. Sippel says.
Learn more about UCHealth’s smoking cessation programs.
E-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals
While it is widely known that traditional cigarettes contain harmful ingredients, there’s still much unknown about the potential long-term effects of vaping.
“What we do know is that many e-cigarette manufacturers added vitamin E acetate in vaping cartridges, which is a molecule that is hard for lungs to clean out and can cause inflammation and lung injury,” Dr. Sippel says. “This is where we have seen some reports of serious lung injury.
“It’s one thing to avoid cartridges with vitamin E acetate in them, but when you vape, you’re also breathing in oil. Oil does not need to go into your lungs and there is a potential for injury when you are smoking oil. So, we don’t yet know what other problems could come from vaping down the road.”
The Centers for Disease and Control continues to investigate reports of lung disease related to vaping.
Young people who vape face greater risks later on
If you’re a parent, you may not even know your child or student is vaping because it’s not as disruptive or obvious as cigarette smoking. The truth is, many are. In fact, vaping devices are the No. 1 way U.S. teens are using nicotine.
“It’s easy for kids to get drawn in to vaping because it’s marketed in a way to hide and disguise the activity and it comes in a ton of yummy flavors,” Dr. Sippel says. “There are even websites that sell hoodies with built-in usb chargers and inhalation devices disguised as the strings.”
There’s a misconception that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, but it’s simply not true. Dr. Sippel warns parents to not be tempted rationalized it as the “lesser or two evils.”
“Kids who vape are going to end up smoking cigarettes or become lifelong vapers which is going to give them high risk of lung injury and emerging illness we don’t even know about yet. No matter how you look at it, vaping is going to cause problems.”
The CDC offers additional tips on how to talk to your teens about the dangers of vaping.
UCHealth’s Comprehensive Lung and Breathing Program is recognized by the U.S. News and World Report “top hospitals” rankings as the best in the nation. Search for the UCHealth respiratory care program closest to you here.