Is Nicotine Harmful ?

Everybody knows that smoking is one of the most dangerous things that a person can do. Smoking related diseases include lung cancer and increased risk of heart disease, strokes and many other forms or respiratory ailments, cancers and peripheral vascular diseases. What is less well known is that the active stimulant in cigarettes and other tobacco products, nicotine, is not the cause of any of these ailments. Indeed, it is actually the many other chemicals to be found in cigarettes that are the true culprits to some of these ailments.

 

What is nicotine?

Like the caffeine in coffee, nicotine is a stimulant, and it occurs naturally in all members of the nightshade family, which includes the humble potato. It is produced in the roots of nightshade plants and makes it's way to the leaves, where it acts as a chemical deterrent to any insect that might see the plant as a source of food. In this sense it is an insecticide, but unlike manmade insecticides it is not harmful to humans except in very, very large doses. It is found in it's highest concentration in the leaves of the tobacco plants and it is these leaves that are dried and made into cigarettes, cigars and any other kind of tobacco product you can think of. When you light up a cigarette, the nicotine is absorbed into your bloodstream via your lungs.

 

If the nicotine isn't harmful then why are cigarettes so bad for you?

The problem is that when you breathe in smoke from a lit cigarette, you breathe in lots of other things at the same time. Two principle agents come from cigarettes that aren't very good for you at all. Firstly there is tar, which is the same substance as the tar we line our roads with! Tar accumulates in the lungs and causes what is known as smoker’s cough. It’s also responsible for a number of nasty respiratory diseases. Secondly there is carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas that has been known to contribute to premature ageing. In addition there are a number of other chemicals contained within cigarette smoke; in fact there are over 7000! Of these 7000, 70 are known carcinogens, which is to say that they are known to cause cancer. The list includes cyanide, ammonia and acetylene (the stuff used in welding torches). To make things worse, all these nasty chemicals can cause non smokers problems too as they breathe in second hand smoke from the people around them. It was for this reason that most western countries have banned smoking in public places.

If that’s not bad enough, the tobacco leaves used in cigarette production are slightly radioactive; you’re not going to get radiation poisoning from them, but over a number of years of smoking you are going to get a fairly large dose of radiation.

 

Is vaping harmful too?

No, there is no evidence to suggest that Vaping causes any of the old smoking related diseases. When a user inhales vapour via an electronic cigarette they are not breathing in smoke. The liquid they are breathing in is harmless; there’s no tar, no carbon monoxide, no cyanide and it’s certainly not radioactive! Since the liquid is atomized rather than burnt, what is being breathed in is benign.

 

What about the nicotine?

To start with, not all e liquids contain nicotine. Many people enjoy the social aspect of vaping without the stimulating effects of the nicotine. The bottom line is that nicotine is an addictive substance. Smokers who go from cigarettes to vaping will still be addicted to nicotine but will no longer be at risk from any of the diseases mentioned above.

 

What about non smokers?

For non smokers who want to try Vaping with a nicotine e liquid, they will get to enjoy the stimulant effect without having the risk of premature death via a host of smoking related illnesses and diseases. Just as with your first puff of a cigarette the body needs to time to get used to taking nicotine into their system. Non smokers who over-vape are likely to feel light headed and perhaps even nauseous so as with all good things, its best taken in moderation. Addiction to nicotine itself is not harmful and although through the use of vaping nicotine e cigarettes you will, if you do it regularly enough, develop a habit, the same can be said for drinking a cup of coffee.

 

Are there any other benefits to vaping over smoking?

Yes, there are many. Smoking doesn't just damage your body in overt ways such as cancers and diseases. It ages the skin, stains teeth and fingernails and it smells! The smell of stale tobacco gets absolutely everywhere, it can persist in clothes even after they have been washed, it clings to the upholstery of furniture and can even stain walls. Vaping on the other hand is odorless and doesn't stain anything. It’s not an irritant to the eyes and there has been no connection to it aggravating asthma or any other respiratory conditions. It can be bought in a variety of flavors and lacks the nasty taste of cigarettes. Not only that, it’s much cheaper to do than to go out and buy a packet of cigarettes, so if you are already a smoker there is a financial as well as health incentive to make the switch.

 

What about second hand smoke?

There isn’t any; vaping is as harmless to other people as it is to you, so you can enjoy it in company guilt free. As of yet there’s no law that says you can’t vape in public buildings. Government restrictions on smoking cigarettes in public places were formulated solely on the health of the nation and the subsequent impact that had on national economies. With no health consequences associated with vaping, governments are less likely to intervene and there is less chance of any social stigma being developed.

Author

Rory Spurling

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