Nicotine is widely described as the most addictive substance on the face of the planet. Most commonly found in tobacco, nicotine makes it incredibly difficult for people to give up smoking. After stopping smoking, cravings can later emerge during any waking moment of the day. According to the NHS, nicotine cravings can be induced by stress, sadness, and drinking coffee or alcohol.
Due to nicotine’s highly addictive nature, Action on Smoking and Health estimates that approximately 10 million UK adults smoke cigarettes. And that is in spite of a multitude of initiatives and legislative changes made to encourage smokers to quit.
However, many have been unconvinced by various anti-addiction products such as patches, gums, and inhalers. Now, though, some are turning to e-cigarettes because they closely replicate the sensation of smoking real cigarettes. But a recent study published by PLOS ONE suggests that vaping is not a safe way to quit smoking.
After witnessing an increase in the popularity of e-cigarettes as a quitting device among smokers over the past five years, a 12-strong group of academic researchers were inspired to find out if e-cigarettes are actually safe. For their study, the researchers used a group of mice to compare the effects of e-cigarette vapour with air.
Amidst a vast selection of complex scientific data, there was a simpler chart that stood out in the results. Over a two-week period, the researchers exposed mice to either air or e-cigarette vapour. Once ready, the next stage was to expose the mice to influenza.
At the beginning of this stage, the mice were defined as weighing 100%. But as 14 days went by, the researchers would weigh the mice daily to determine weight change. This was highly relevant because weight-loss would demonstrate illness.
Source: Exposure to Electronic Cigarettes Impairs Pulmonary Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Viral Defenses in a Mouse Model (2015)
After exhibiting similar weight-loss on days three and four, the rate began to increase dramatically from day five onwards for e-cigarette exposure. The gap is at its largest on day 12, with a variance of approximately 12%. While the normal mice were close to recovering from influenza, those exposed to e-cigarette vapour were still way off.
Even by the end of the 14-day period of illness, the mice exposed to e-cigarette vapour weighed 8% less than those exposed to air. Such a prolonged period of disparity indicates that e-cigarette vapour can dramatically reduce the recovery time for illnesses affecting the lungs and immune system. Moreover, e-cigarette vapour made the mice more susceptible to contracting illnesses.
The researchers concluded from the above portion of the research that e-cigarette exposure doubled the mortality rate from 30% to 60%, meaning that there would be twice as many deaths among the mice. In addition, e-cigarette vapour was found to reduce anti-viral defences.
Although e-cigarettes contain approximately 1% of the damaging free radical toxins found in normal cigarettes, the PLOS ONE study revealed that they have the potential to significantly increase the risk of death and susceptibility to viral diseases.
As more health research is performed in this area, additional information will soon emerge. Health and insurance professionals will be eager to see the results of future research to fully ascertain the definitive risks of e-cigarette vapour on people.
Should e-cigarette risks genuinely come to the fore, this could influence smokers with health insurance and life insurance. Providers would almost certainly increase premiums for all e-cigarette smokers. Consequently, smokers wishing to quit should be safe and stick with traditional quitting aids for the foreseeable future.
According to the British Medical Journal, the average smoker’s life expectancy is 10 years fewer than for a non-smoker. As a result, insurance providers make their policyholders take a nicotine test to ascertain whether or not they are a smoker. The end result is higher premiums for smokers.
Considering that nicotine testing is now a common practice among insurance providers, they will likely develop an e-cigarette test in the future. Even though a smoker might have quit, their premiums could remain at the same level or perhaps climb higher. At present, some providers increase the premiums for policyholders who use nicotine replacement products, so it could be worse for e-cigarettes.