Many experts regard the delivery of nicotine through vaping to be less risky than smoking traditional cigarettes, because it avoids most of the harmful combustion products inhaled through cigarette smoke.
Whether it works to help people quit smoking continues to be debated, although some clinical trials show it is more effective than other quit aids such as nicotine patches. We know some people who vape in Australia are doing so because they used the practice to quit smoking cigarettes.
While vape products containing nicotine are banned in Australia, some people source them illegally or obtain a prescription to bring them in from overseas. For others, the behavioural features of vaping nicotine-free products may be enough to prevent them going back to smoking cigarettes.
The widespread reports of an outbreak of a sudden-onset and serious lung disease associated with E-cigarettes may leave this group wondering if they would be better off ditching vaping and returning to smoking.
The simple answer is, no, they wouldn’t. Research shows that to vape poses less of a danger to our health than smoking traditional cigarettes. But that doesn’t mean it’s without risk.
The chemicals in vaping
Most commercially produced vaping liquids contain water soluble liquid (propylene glycol, glycerol), nicotine (though not in Australia), and flavourings. The liquid is heated by the vaping device to produce a mist that’s inhaled into the lungs.
Vaping should not be seen as a harmless practice. People who do not smoke tobacco should not begin vaping. However, for someone who smokes tobacco, the choice is more complicated because of the very high risks from smoking. Ideally, the safest option is not to smoke or vape, but the priority for smokers should be to stop smoking.
Professional support from Quitline and medicinal nicotine products or prescription medicines can help. But those who have tried and failed to quit, and have switched instead to vaping, should not return to smoking . To reduce risks to their health, people who vape should avoid any liquids that contain oils, and especially avoid cannabis/THC liquids. Only purchase vaping products from reputable manufacturers.