As a reader of my hometown newspaper, The Washington Post, I am taken aback by the frequent full-page ads for Juul, the vaping product that touts itself as a better alternative to tobacco smoking. These ads leave me skeptical and even a bit nauseous. The Post’s ads often show a smiling former smoker and includes a quote from that person as to why he or she took up vaping. I, for one, am not convinced of the alleged benefits.
A recent report by Michael Blaha, MD, MPH, director of clinical research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, clearly and convincingly summarized the falsehoods inherent in the pro-vaping arguments, writing of the myths regarding the supposed benefits of vaping. He debunks all of them. They include:
- Vaping, although not true smoking, is the inhalation of nicotine. Tobacco contains about 7,000 chemicals, most of them are toxic. While vaping may expose you to less chemicals, the addictive and toxic effects of nicotine, which include a rise in pulse, blood pressure and adrenaline, are still there and even magnified.
- People who vape are frequently still smokers. The makers of vaping products say it is a better alternative to smoking, but the truth lies elsewhere. Studies have shown that most people who vape also continue to abuse cigarettes.
- Vaping is attracting a younger and more vulnerable crowd, especially in its flavored varieties of vaping products. This hooks younger people on a product proven to be harmful to the cardiovascular system (at a minimum) and other body systems (central nervous system, respiratory system) as well.
- As mentioned before, nicotine, when concentrated in vapor, causes a spike in blood pressure, heart rate and can cause undue cardiac stimulation and unwanted cardiovascular effects in vulnerable people (i.e. patients with existing high blood pressure, heart disease and heart rhythm problems). Nicotine is not benign and should not be marketed as such. There have been reports that vaping may expose the user to lead and heavy metals, which are proven toxins.
The Journal Physician’s Weekly has also weighed in. It recently cited some confirmatory evidence as well as additional damning info:
Only 10% of nearly 1,300 smokers in one study were able to quit smoking cigarettes by vaping. Vaping has been shown to have deleterious effects, due to high nicotine exposure, on developing teenage brains. They quote a study in an American Heart Association journal that reveals that the flavorings in vaping products may damage blood vessels and even the reproductive tract. Nicotine in e-cigarettes impaired beneficial acetylcholine-mediated blood vessel dilatation, causing arterial stiffness and a rise in blood pressure and heart rate. Even protective cough reflexes were reduced in another study, and still another showed inflammatory effects on the lungs and deleterious changes in the cells of the lungs that help prevent infection.
With vaping rates having increased among teens an impressive 900% from 2011 to 2015, it’s easy to see why health advocacy groups have gotten fumed up about the lies that vaping is a safe alternative to smoking. Clearly, both are bad for you. And it’s time that the FDA, the public and the press cut through the haze of obfuscations and hyped claims and call out vaping for what it is: another way to poison oneself through the inhalation of toxins that damage the lungs, cardiovascular, nervous, immune and reproductive systems.
So stop rationalizing…and just quit it. If you need help, there are great resources at SmokeFree.gov. I urge you to check it out.
For more with Dr. Sherer, click here for his podcast and video interviews, or purchase his memoir, The House of Black and White: My Life with and Search for Louise Johnson Morris.