Not every cloud has a silver lining

by Chris Hoare

August 21st, 2023

I used to hate walking through a cloud of cigarette smoke. Not too many years ago when smoking was allowed on the upper decks of buses it was difficult to avoid. The same was true of restaurants and especially pubs. An evening out with friends meant coming home reeking of second-hand tobacco smoke.

But that all changed.

Changes in the law have led to a gradual move away from smoking, making all these places much safer to visit or use. At the same time the rise in take-up of E-cigarettes and vapes seems to provide a much healthier alternative to breathing in the 3000+ chemicals in tobacco smoke.

It all sounds good, but as people have replaced one habit for another, the same might be true in terms of health problems. A growing body of research is raising concerns about the potential risks to health from prolonged vaping.

Respiratory Health. One of the most immediate concerns associated with vaping is its potential impact on respiratory health. While e-cigarettes lack the tar and many of the harmful chemicals found in traditional cigarettes, the aerosols produced by vaping still contain harmful substances such as nicotine, ultra-fine particles, and various flavouring compounds. These can irritate the airways and lead to symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Additionally, some studies have suggested that vaping increases the risk of respiratory infections.

Cardiovascular Effects. Nicotine, a primary component of most e-cigarette liquids, is known to have cardiovascular effects. Vaping can lead to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, potentially putting strain on the cardiovascular system. Long-term use of nicotine has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Moreover, the impact of vaping on blood vessels and arteries is still being studied, but early research suggests that it might have negative effects on endothelial function, a crucial factor for cardiovascular health.

Dental Health. The effect that vapes are having on the teeth and gums of users has already gone beyond the need for research. Regular vaping can have dramatic effects on tooth and gum health. Things to watch out for are:

Receding gums
Mouth pain or toothache
Loose teeth or tooth loss
Frequent dry mouth
Mouth sores or ulcers that take time to heal
Swollen or bleeding gums
(If you experience any of these please see a dentist and let them know if you use a vape)

A gateway product. Although vaping is often marketed as a tool to help smokers quit, it has the unintended consequence of creating a new generation of nicotine users. The appealing flavours, sleek devices, and perceived harm reduction have made vaping particularly enticing to young people. Although the power of nicotine addiction is nowhere near what we are led to believe, there is concern that vaping could act as a gateway to traditional smoking for those who otherwise might not have started smoking.

There is growing concern over the lack of long-term studies on the health effects of vaping, something that was once true of smoking with disastrous results on public health that are still being felt today.

As hypnotherapists one of the key areas of our work is helping people to stop smoking, something we excel at. Having lost close family members due to smoking related cancers, we have a personal interest in helping people to free themselves from anything to do with tobacco and nicotine.

Whenever I see that now familiar white cloud drifting away from a person, or even a car window, I am reminded that not every cloud has that proverbial silver lining.