There is limited evidence surrounding the safety of ‘vaping’. Vaping devices, also commonly called e-cigarettes, are devices that heat liquid solutions to the point of vaporization. This vapor, which condenses into an aerosol, is then inhaled by the user through a mouthpiece. Vaporization may release harmful chemicals, such as formaldehyde, which is a potential carcinogen. Many liquids also contain nicotine in widely varying amounts.
Research suggests that emissions from these devices, while less dangerous than tobacco smoke, could be harmful to the user as well as nearby non-users. The effects of long-term, frequent exposure to e-cigarettes aerosol are not yet known. Some studies, however, indicate that long-term exposure to e-cigarette aerosol can cause lung damage.
Although research results vary, e-cigarette use can result in the following:
Short-term cardiovascular health effects
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
Short-term respiratory health effects
- Increased airway resistance
- Decreased airway conductance
While vaping, including the use of nicotine-containing liquids, is legal in B.C, the sale and consumption of vaping products is subject to legislation that regulates tobacco use (e.g. the sale of products to minors and smoking near doorways or air intakes).
There is also some research suggesting that e-cigarettes may be helpful for some smokers to quit or reduce smoking. However, much more research needs to be done to determine the short term and long-term effectiveness of using e-cigarettes to quit smoking.
The official position of Health Canada is that vaping is less harmful than smoking cigarettes, and that replacing cigarette smoking with vaping can reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. Many of the toxic and cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco and tobacco smoke form when tobacco is burned. Vaping does expose your body to many harmful chemicals, however, and nicotine-containing liquids pose the risk of addiction. This aligns with the position of QuitNow – British Columbia’s smoking cessation support service that is managed by the BC Lung Association and the BC Ministry of Health.
If you are a cigarette smoker who is trying to cut back or quit, vaping could be a less-harmful alternative to tobacco. But quitting entirely is always the healthiest and safest option, and there are a wide range of resources available to help you quit. Are you ready to take the next step?
You can find out more about vaping and e-cigarettes from the following resources: