It seems that every week a new piece of research is released on the safety of vaping.
Earlier this month we read that cigarette smoking rates have stalled among young people in the US, and that health officials believe vaping is responsible. Late last year another study found that e-cigarettes have spurred a huge drop in tobacco smoking rates among teenagers and young adults.
Then there are the questions over the safety of the liquid used in e-cigarettes, which throws up equally confusing research.
To clear things up, we asked Colin Mendelsohn, chairman of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association to tell us the bottom line: Is vaping safe – and what do we know about it so far?
“The question is, not whether vaping is safe, it’s whether it’s safer than smoking,” he told us. “Vaping is a substitute for people who smoke who can’t quit. The best available evidence we have is that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking.”
"That’s based on what we know about what’s in tobacco smoke and what we know is in vapour. That figure has been calculated after a full analysis by the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health in the UK.”
Here’s what else he told us:
- Nearly all of the chemicals in smoke are absent in vapour. “Those that are there are present in mostly less than 1% of the strength they are in tobacco smoke.”
- It’s far less harmful to health than cigarettes. “Of course there are chemicals in vaping liquid, and of course it’s better not to do anything, and we don’t recommend e-cigarettes for people who don’t smoke. But for people who do, and the overwhelming majority of people who vape are using it to quit cigarettes – there’s overwhelming agreement that there are substantial health improvements.”
- Vaping doesn’t lead to cigarette smoking, or even regular use of e-cigarettes. “A lot of kids try vaping and they do it for a while and it’s just experimental. But less than half a percent of people who have never smoked, but try vaping go on to become regular vapers.”
Short answer: on the whole yes, vaping is safe.