The long term effects of vaping although as known by many for decades might be misconceived
After half a dozen deaths allegedly associated with vaping and a surge in teenage e-cigarette use, US President Donald Trump has proposed banning flavoured e-cigarette liquids, which had nothing to do with the health scare in the first place. Local media joined in the hysteria, which will kill more people than it saves. Could that be the long term effects of vaping?
Recently, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the US confirmed in a media conference call that it was investigating cases of lung disease among people who use e-cigarettes.
It said it had received reports about three confirmed deaths and a fourth under investigation. In addition, 450 cases of lung diseases were under investigation but not ascertain if that could be the long term effects of vaping.
The CDC said that no definitive cause for the deaths or lung disease cases had been determined where as some consider it as the long term effects of vaping.
However, the disease is not mysterious, as numerous publication of greater and lesser repute have claimed.
The disease is called lipoid pneumonia, a non-contagious form of pneumonia that can occur when either oils or lipid-containing substances enter the lungs, according to Dr Daniel Fox, who participated in the CDC’s conference call with the media.
The CDC also made a curiously specific recommendation to avoid vaping products “off the street”, and pointed to the presence of vitamin E acetate in many of the THC oil samples it took.
The New York Times reported on a drugs bust in Wisconsin, where THC is still illegal, and also noted that illicit THC products are often cut with vitamin E acetate.
On the black market, drugs are routinely cut with other substances – some benign and some toxic – to make dealers more money.
In legal markets, however, this practice is rare. Leading makers of nicotine e-cigarettes, including Juul Labs, British American Tobacco and Imperial Brands, told Reuters their products contain neither vitamin E compounds nor THC.
So far, then, it looks like we’re dealing with people who vape improperly prepared THC oils, mostly bought off the street.
There appear to be no new health problems associated with products available on the ordinary, commercial, non-cannabis vaping market.
Barring new information that implicates regular e-cigarettes, there is absolutely no justification in calling for a ban on any or all of them.
A review of the evidence in 2014, as well as an expanded review in 2016, both found that vaping does help smokers to quit, helps heavy smokers to reduce their cigarette consumption, and was not associated with significant adverse events.
This 2016 study found e-cigarettes were positively correlated with the success of quit attempts. A 2019 study found e-cigarette users were twice as likely to quit cigarettes as users of conventional quit aids.
If you ignore all these studies and assume that e-cigarettes do not help people quit, then you could argue that there is no benefit to vaping, and any risk, however low, would weigh against it.
This is what Coetzee would have you believe, but the medical literature contradicts her claim.
She continued by saying that all e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is false. Many don’t, and a smoker who wants to quit will typically start with a high-nicotine liquid, and gradually use lower concentrations until they’re on a nicotine-free liquid.
She said that the problem lies with nicotine, which is also false. Cigarette smoke contains thousands of chemicals, of which at least 70 are known carcinogens, and it isn’t even clear that nicotine is one of them that can not be considered as the effect of vaping.
“At present, it is not possible to draw a conclusion whether nicotine itself may act as a complete carcinogen,” declared a recent academic paper that looked into potential effects of nicotine on cancer development and treatment.
She said e-cigarettes give you bronchitis, pneumonia or “popcorn lung”. This is also a gross generalization but could that be the long term effects of vaping?
It can in theory do so, but actual cases are rare. In the case of the ominous-sounding popcorn lung, properly called bronchiolitis obliterans, there have been exactly zero cases reported as a result of e-cigarette use.
The only link is that some flavours of vaping liquid have been found to contain diacetyl, as disclosed on the labels. Diacetyl can cause bronchiolitis obliterans in people exposed to substantial amounts, which workers in popcorn factories used to be, hence the nickname.
Even in the few liquids that do contain diacetyl, however, levels are only 1% of the diacetyl levels in cigarette smoke, so the notion that e-cigarette use inevitably, or even sometimes, leads to the disease is baseless.
She said they aren’t sure what chemicals are in e-cigarette vapour because there have been no studies.
It appears, however, that South African health authorities are simply not interested in reading the academic literature.
In the real world, however, people need ways to help them do that, and e-cigarettes offer perhaps the best possible way to do so. It should be hailed as the best thing ever to happen to the anti-smoking cause.
Yet the South African government, without having done any studies whatsoever on the safety or otherwise of e-cigarettes, has already written the rules.
That means no advertising, no retail display, no online sales, and no vaping in public places.
Even if one did not take into account the evidence that vaping can help smokers quit, thereby reducing the harm of tobacco products, everyone, in any case, has the right to consume products that pose some health risks.
Every time we eat or drink anything we’re taking risks, including the risk of ingesting low levels of toxic substances, disease-causing pathogens or carcinogens.
In the case of some foods, we risk obesity, diabetes and other adverse consequences. In the case of some drinks, we risk drunkenness, heart disease and stroke.
If we had to ban everything that posed a small risk to our health, we’d have to ban, well, everything.
The current health scare around vaping probably has nothing to do with ordinary vaping liquids, whether or not they contain nicotine.
Although vaping is not entirely risk-free, it is vastly safer than smoking tobacco. For this reason alone, any regulation of e-cigarettes ought to increase public confidence and know the effect of vaping.
It should not fan and exploit public hysteria to blindly restrict or ban vaping without any regard for facts or science.