It’s a common myth that vaping isn’t harmful to your health. The truth is that vaping does affect your body negatively.
There are many misconceptions about how vaping is a better alternative to smoking. Dr Daniel Lim, one of the anchor doctors at Doctor Anywhere, clears the air — pun intended — on vaping in Singapore and how it affects our health.
What is vaping?
“You can think of vaping as smoking with an electronic cigarette,” says Dr Daniel. “The electronic cigarette, also known as the vape, has a cartridge that’s filled with flavoured liquids. This turns into vapour when it’s heated up and you inhale it, the same way you do with a normal cigarette.”
Depending on the type of vape someone is using, the liquid may contain various types of chemicals — this is where it may affect your body negatively.
Why is vaping bad for your health?
“The vapour, or aerosol, contains a high concentration of ultrafine particles that can have harmful effects on us,” explains Dr Daniel. “Some vapes may even produce a higher concentration of these particles, as compared to smoke from a normal tobacco cigarette.”
Common chemicals that are contained in vapes include propylene glycol, which can irritate the linings of your throat and airway; and formaldehyde, which has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and infertility.
Vaping can affect your health in many ways:
- Short-term side effects of vaping: “You may experience throat irritation and it could aggravate underlying conditions, such as asthma.”
- Long-term side effects of vaping: “As vaping may cause your blood vessels to become inflamed, it could reduce blood flow to your vital organs. This can eventually lead to an increased risk of heart conditions.”
Do we have to worry about second-hand smoke when it comes to vaping?
A common complaint about smokers is the smelly, thick tobacco smoke. In comparison, smoke from a vape smells sweeter — and we could mistakenly think that we do not have to worry about second-hand smoke from vapes.
“We should still be cautious about breathing in second-hand smoke from electronic cigarettes as it can still irritate you,” says Dr Daniel. “This is especially so for those who are more sensitive or who may have respiratory conditions like asthma.”
Is vaping better than smoking cigarettes and can it help me quit smoking?
“While vaping may be slightly less harmful to your health than smoking cigarettes, that doesn’t mean that it’s better,” emphasises Dr Daniel. “People may misunderstand the word ‘better’ and think that it’s a good alternative. However, you should stay away from vaping completely, as it does affect your body in negative ways.”
Along the same lines, Dr Daniel cautions against the belief that vaping can help you quit smoking. In fact, vaping in Singapore is illegal; you could be charged with a fine if you have an electronic cigarette.
“There is insufficient evidence that vaping can help you to quit smoking,” says Dr Daniel. “There has been a study that found that a large percentage of smokers who swapped to electronic cigarettes to quit, still ended up smoking and using the electronic cigarette a year later.”
Rather, for those who are trying to quit, there are more effective smoking cessation techniques that have been proven to work. These include going through guided smoking cessation programmes or consulting a health professional for a prescription for Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
If you’re looking to start your smoking cessation journey, getting support from a medical professional can help you to successfully quit smoking. Our doctors are able to assess your suitability for NRT and prescribe the treatment, over video-call. All you need to do is download the Doctor Anywhere app to get started.