By Dheeraj Raina, MD
Dr. Raina is a psychiatrist in Chicago, IL, and blogs at https://docraina.com
Published on December 5, 2019
My thoughts about vaping
Because of my addictions specialty, acquaintances often ask my opinion on vaping. In the past, my take on vaping was straightforward:
– If you have never smoked cigarettes or vaped, don’t begin. Neither is good for your health.
– If you are a cigarette smoker, and not yet ready to quit, switch completely to vaping. In 2015, Public Health England (PHE) reviewed the evidence and concluded that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than tobacco cigarettes.
– If you are a vaper, do not also smoke cigarettes along with vaping. Smoking cigarettes while vaping defeats the health advantage that vaping has over smoking.
– If you are a vaper (or smoker), reduce your use and quit altogether. Though it is less unhealthy than smoking, vaping is not risk-free. It is best for your health to neither smoke nor vape.
Why my advice needed to be updated
But, in light of recent lung-injury deaths in the US from vaping, this advice must be updated. As of December 2019, the investigation into the vaping-related injuries and death by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is ongoing. Their initial impression is that the vaping of cannabis products appears to be the main culprit. But it is not the only one.
My advice as of today
If someone were to ask me today, based on what we currently know, I would add the following to the above points for current vapers:
– Do not vape any cannabis-related product.
– Do not vape anything besides nicotine products. Avoid flavored nicotine products and those containing after-market additives.
– Do not buy vaping liquid off the street. Buy it only from reputable sellers. And stay away from any vaping products made by unknown manufacturers.
– Do not switch to cigarettes. All evidence still points to them being more harmful than vaping.
My advice to loved ones and family members of vapers
Until we learn more from the CDC investigation:
– Oppose vaping bans. It is best not to vape at all. But bans will most likely make vapers switch to cigarettes. And those remain the number one preventable cause of death in the US. Promote public policy that prohibits the vaping industry from targeting children and adolescents. But oppose outright bans.
Finally, a couple of words of caution
– This opinion is based on what we currently know. New knowledge will change the opinion.
– Also, this is not personal advice for anyone. An individual’s family or personal health history may make vaping more dangerous for them than any general advice can address.
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