Smoking is bad for you and everyone around you. So if vaping is less bad for you, is it also less bad for everyone around you? Hi everyone, Julian here for DNews from YouTube Space LA! Let’s kick this off by saying the obvious: cigarettes are bad for you.
The nicotine in them is highly addictive and causes increased blood pressure, higher cholesterol, and heart disease. Cigarettes yellow your teeth and nails, cause premature wrinkling, and the American Cancer Society estimates about half of people who start smoking and never quit will die of cancer.
But, if despite knowing all this you still choose to smoke, it’s your decision and you know the risks. The problem really arises for people around you who choose not to smoke, and yet they’re going to suffer a lot of the same effects if they breathe in your smoke regularly.
Yes, even the cancer part, unless you don’t believe the EPA, the U.S. National Toxicology Program, the Surgeon General, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Children who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a higher instance of respiratory infections, asthma, sudden infant death syndrome, and nicotine negatively affects the prefrontal cortex of developing brains.
While the standalone effects of nicotine as a carcinogen have not been investigated thoroughly, researchers from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute have found exposure to it causes DNA mutations which can increase cancer risk over time.
On top of that many people don’t like the smell of cigarette smoke, cigarette butts are the most common piece of litter, and dealing with people who have gone too long without their nicotine fix is just terrible.
Enter the e-cigarette. The idea is you do away with tobacco and instead have extracted nicotine in water. A heating element vaporizes the water, that carries the nicotine into your lungs and you exhale water vapor that’s harmless to the people around you.
At least that’s what the advertisements say, but what does the science say? Short answer: It’s less bad but still not great. Yes, it’s true, without the tobacco and tar, the vapor you exhale has a tenth the carcinogens as normal cigarette smoke so second hand vapor indoors from one e-cigarette is considered no significant risk, while a regular cigarette is.
Still the vapor can have a negative effect on your immune system. Mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor were more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections because of free radicals in the smoke that damaged cell DNA.
There’s a new problem e-cigs have too: because you’re heating a metal tube, the vapor can carry heavy metals. Some of them, like lead or zinc, are in lower levels than you find in normal tobacco smoke.
But one heavy metal in the vapor that’s not found in cigarettes is chromium. Chromium comes in a couple different forms based on how easily it bonds with other elements, trivalent chromium [Cr (III)] and hexavalent chromium [Cr (VI)].
Trivalent Chromium isn’t absorbed well by the body so it’s pretty harmless, but hexavalent chromium is a different story. Chronic inhalation can cause lung scarring and lung cancer. The thing is, both these forms of chromium are used to keep metals from corroding, it’s where we get the term “chrome” from.
So either of them might be used in manufacturing e-cigarettes. The USC study doesn’t specify which they found because it’s difficult to differentiate in tests. And with so many makes and models of e-cigarettes and very little regulation, it’s impossible to know which maker is using which form of chromium.
But let’s assume that regulations and manufacturing standards can eliminate hexavalent chromium from the vapor. There’s still the nicotine. That’s what this is all about right? that sweet nicotine fix? E-cig smokers can choose different cartridges with a range of nicotine levels from none to pretty high.
The nicotine will still cause a wealth of cardiovascular problems so that aspect is no better than regular cigarettes. How much of that nicotine is in second hand vapor? According to Oxford University, about a tenth as much that’s in tobacco smoke.
it’s still present and so the Oxford researchers warn to hold off on vaping near children, pregnant women, or people with cardiovascular conditions until more studies are done. So as of right now, for the most part, it looks like second hand vapor poses a significantly lower health risk than tobacco smoke.
But remember, it took decades of observation and study to realize the effects of passive tobacco smoke inhalation. E-cigarettes have only been on the market since 2007, and to really know what we’re getting into we need to be able to see the effects of the vapor over a person’s lifetime.
That’s right, say it with me, more research is needed. E-cigarette smoke is apparently a lot less bad, nice, myth confirmed. We can’t say as much for Hookah smoke though. For the details on smoking hookah and why it’s really really really bad for you, check out Trace’s video down here.
So, knowing what you now know, would you be comfortable with someone vaping in the room with you? Or if you use e-cigs yourself, would you respect someone asking you to vape outside? Let us know in the comments! Oh and sidebar, if you’re under 18, don’t smoke.
Even if you can buy e-cigs legally, that nicotine hooks you easier and is still bad for your developing brain. Plus they don’t even look cool, they’re like a weird light-up version of those little recorders they made you play hot crossed buns on in 3rd grade, it’s not a good look.
Ok, I’ll see you next time on DNews!