Vaping has been increasing in popularity in the UK in recent years. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates that 2.8 million people in the country now smoke e-cigarettes.
This data from 2017 equates to 5.5 per cent of the UK population and is a significant increase over the 3.7 per cent of vapers recorded in 2011 when the organisation started collecting data about e-cigarette use.
One of the reasons people buy vape kits and start smoking e-cigarettes is as a means of giving up traditional smoking. In fact, Public Health England estimates that vaping is helping at least 20,000 people quit smoking each year.
The NHS and other health organisations believe that vaping poses a much lower health risk than traditional smoking, and therefore are encouraging its use as a tool to quit smoking.
However, many smokers use vapes to cut back on the number of cigarettes they smoke, but still continue to light up in a traditional way every now and then. But this means you’re not getting the full health benefits of making the switch, or so new research suggests.
The Daily Mail reported on a study by the Roswell Park Cancer Centre, which found that even if you’re cutting down on your traditional smoking by using a vape, you’re still inhaling toxic chemicals and these linger in your body.
Study leader Maciej Goniewicz told the news provider that, compared to traditional smokers, those who only vape have lower levels of the biomarkers for toxic chemicals in their urine. However, they are not as toxin-free as their non-smoking counterparts.
Dr Goniewicz said that his team was surprised to find out how many dual users there are – people who both smoke and vape.
He said that vaping can be a useful transition for those who are looking to quit smoking, but stressed that in order to get the full benefits of the switch, people need to completely cut out traditional cigarettes.
“E-cigarettes are a benefit to smokers only if they completely switch to vaping,” Dr Goniewicz stated.
He also noted that some smokers choose to vape in places where smoking is not allowed, and then smoke at home.
The study carried out by the Roswell Park Cancer Centre found that although the biomarkers for the heavy metals lead and cadmium were lower in vapers than in smokers, the biomarkers for nicotine were highest in vapers.
But the presence of toxic, cancer-causing chemicals, such as nitrosamines that are found specifically in tobacco, was much higher in those who smoked or who smoked and vaped, compared to those who only vaped or who never used tobacco products.
Given that almost half (48.8 per cent) of those who vape told the ONS research that the reason they do so is to help them quit smoking, it’s important that people understand the implications of continuing to light up traditional cigarettes while using e-cigarettes.
The second most-popular reason for vape use was the perception that they’re healthier than traditional cigarettes, the research found.