By Smarty Guest Blogger, Darrell Klotz, MD, Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates, P.A. This was originally posted on their blog. We thank them for the opportunity to share with Smarty Charlotte!
You see it more and more these days: people inhaling vapor from a thin metal cylinder that emits a smoky mist. Shops with names like “Vapor Smoke Shop,” “Queens Crave Vapor,” and “Vaporium” seem to be springing up everywhere you turn. Vaping has seen an explosion in popularity in recent years. Electronic cigarettes or “e-cigarettes” are battery operated devices that heat a nicotine-laced liquid (in addition to a number of chemical additives – glycol, glycerin and usually some type of flavoring) into a vapor so that it may be inhaled like a cigarette, and “vaping” is the act of inhaling the flavored nicotine fog. Vaping has been marketed as a healthy alternative to smoking because it does not contain tobacco, but are e-cigarettes and vaping really harmless?
Cigarettes vs. e-cigarettes
The danger in traditional cigarettes comes primarily from the tobacco as it burns, creating carcinogens (carbonyls) and particulates that cause well-established health issues such as head and neck cancer, lung cancer and chronic debilitating lung disease (e.g., COPD). Tobacco smoke is also an irritant to the breathing passages of the smoker and those around them (second-hand smoke), which can lead to a higher rate of respiratory illnesses, ear infections, asthma exacerbations, chronic sinus conditions and chronic hoarseness. However, vaping gives off less “second-hand” smoke and 1,000 times fewer toxic carbonyls than cigarettes, and in that way, may seem safer than normal cigarettes. Nonetheless, e-cigarette emissions still cause increased heart rate and blood pressure, atherosclerotic disease and insulin resistance. The chemical additives found in the e-liquid that is vaporized may have yet untold adverse effects on our breathing passages. In addition, the ratios of the glycol, glycerin and nicotine in these liquids vary widely, with the number of toxic byproducts also fluctuating. When combined with the ease of keeping one of these “smokeless” puffers in your hand most of the day, the amount of toxins to which one is exposed could be substantial. Read More →