The use of e-cigarettes and e-liquids as an alternative to traditional tobacco products has become increasingly popular in recent years. E-smoking products have now become the preference for today’s young people, surpassing habitual products like cigars and cigarettes.
The major decline in smoking prevalence is attributed to the social recognition of the harmful effects of smoking and support for smoke-free environments. While e-cigarettes and e-liquids have benefits like reduced exposure to customizable nicotine levels and harmful chemicals, there are some considerable drawbacks. This article will explore both benefits and drawbacks of switching to e-liquid as a means of reducing harm from tobacco use.
Is Smoking Tobacco Addictive?
Nicotine makes smoking tobacco addictive, which is a highly addictive substance. Addiction is the use of a substance despite its harmful and unintended consequences. When nicotine enters the bloodstream, it triggers the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that creates a pleasurable sensation. The human brain becomes dependent on nicotine with time which leads to mental and physical withdrawal systems if levels of nicotine drop. This leads to a cycle of addiction where the smoker keeps using tobacco to avoid withdrawal and maintain pleasure.
How Does Nicotine Affect Smokers?
Some common signs of nicotine addiction that make quitting smoking tobacco challenging are the following.
Nicotine causes pleasant feelings when taken in smaller amounts and fades away negative ones. Over time, a person may need more nicotine to feel the same effects. It acts on the central nervous system affecting moods.
When nicotine levels drop, withdrawal symptoms can include irritability, anxiety, depression, and difficulty concentrating.
The urge to use nicotine can be intense, even in the face of negative consequences such as decreased health or strained relationships.
Even after quitting, many people find themselves using nicotine again in the future, often after exposure to triggers such as stress or social situations.
Loss of control:
A person may feel like they are unable to control their nicotine use, even if they want to quit.
Nicotine in E-cigarettes and E-liquids:
Nicotine levels are dependent on the manufacturer and product. The following are common nicotine levels found in these products:
- High: 24mg/mL and higher
- Medium: 12mg/mL to 18mg/mL
- Low: 6mg/mL to 12mg/mL
- Very low: 0mg/mL to 6mg/mL
- Nicotine-free: 0mg/mL
It’s important to note that the actual nicotine content can vary from what is labeled and that users should carefully read and follow the instructions on the product packaging. Additionally, the amount of nicotine absorbed can depend on factors such as the device used, the temperature and duration of use, and the individual’s personal metabolism.
Nicotine labeling for e-cigarettes and e-liquids is regulated by different laws in different countries. However, in general, the following labeling requirements are common:
The nicotine concentration in e-liquids must be clearly labeled in milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL) or percent by volume.
E-liquids containing nicotine must carry a warning label that states that nicotine is an addictive substance.
E-liquids containing nicotine must be sold in child-resistant packaging to prevent accidental ingestion by children.
The labeling must provide information about the ingredients in the e-liquid, the manufacturer or distributor, and the contact information.
These labeling requirements aim to inform consumers about the presence and concentration of nicotine in e-cigarettes and e-liquids, and to reduce the risk of harm to users and non-users.
Benefits of switching to e-liquid:
Reduced exposure to harmful chemicals. Traditional tobacco products contain harmful chemicals such as tar and carbon monoxide. E-liquids do not contain these chemicals.
Customizable nicotine levels. E-liquids come in various nicotine strengths, allowing users to gradually decrease their intake and quit smoking if desired.
Variety of flavors. E-liquids come in a range of flavors, allowing users to switch up their taste experience.
Cost-effective. E-liquids can be less expensive than traditional tobacco products in the long run.
Drawbacks of switching to e-liquid:
Lack of regulation. The e-cigarette industry is largely unregulated, which means that the quality and safety of e-liquids can vary.
Health concerns. There are still health concerns surrounding e-cigarettes, as they contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals.
Addiction. E-liquids contain nicotine, which is addictive. This means that users may become addicted to e-cigarettes just as they would traditional tobacco products.
Uncertainty about long-term effects. The long-term effects of using e-cigarettes are still unknown.
It’s frequently asserted that e-cigarettes can aid users in quitting traditional cigarettes. Still, there is very little scientific research into whether people electric cigarettes assist e-liquid users in cutting back or quitting completely.
An international team of academics working for the World Health Organization as well as members of the Cochrane Collaboration has both searched for published papers in this field (WHO).
They discovered two relevant research that examined whether e-cigarettes improve the likelihood of effectively stopping tobacco use. The investigations had a little over 650 participants in total. After 6 to 12 months, it was determined if they had been able to successfully stop smoking.
Despite these developments, many current smokers still find it difficult to stop, necessitating the use of additional strategies. E-cigarette adoption is one such alternative strategy. In the early 2000s, a pharmacist in China invented the first electronic cigarette. It is a device that creates a nicotine aerosol by heating a nicotine and flavouring agent solution, which is commonly based on propylene glycol or glycerol. A mouthpiece is on the cylindrical device, which is used to inhale the vapour. E-cigarettes, as opposed to other nicotine replacement methods, let users simulate the hand-to-mouth motion of smoking a cigarette while also delivering nicotine vapour to the lungs without the harmful byproducts associated with tobacco usage.
Making a switch from traditional cigarettes to a smoke-free tobacco product will never be better than stopping the use of all nicotine and tobacco products. The above article only shows that switching can only reduce the harms of smoking e-liquid or vaping compared to continued use of traditional cigarettes and that the effects of switching on a person’s health add up over time. Thus, complete smoking cessation is always the better choice, and for people who cannot quit, switching from traditional cigarettes to a smokeless tobacco product with a less harmful profile backed up is a good alternative.