Tobacco and Vaping
How Does Nicotine Relate To These Two
Nicotine is the addictive substance found in tobacco, that makes it so hard to stop smoking. It is a common misconception that the nicotine found in cigarettes contributes to the serious health risks associated with smoking. It is, in fact, many other toxic components of cigarette smoke that cause these harmful effects. People smoke to satisfy their nicotine addiction, but will die from exposure to tobacco smoke. Nicotine is used in e-cigarettes to help smokers quit tobacco. The nicotine found in nicotine replacement therapies such as gum, patches and e-cigarettes is generally considered harmless, aside from it’s addictive potential. Vaping with nicotine is not going to put you more at risks than if you vape nicotine-free.
Why Vape Without Nicotine?
Many non-smokers vape nicotine-free to enjoy vaping ‘trick’ culture
There are several reasons why someone might vape without nicotine:
Someone who is quitting smoking may vape nicotine-free e-cigarettes for a short period after they have decreased the nicotine content of their e-liquid from a high level down to zero. The last step in this quitting process is to break the psychological habit of using an e-cigarette, which is easiest if the e-juice is nicotine-free.
Some people find the flavors and sensation of vaping highly pleasurable, and consider vape ‘tricks’ as a hobby. There is a huge vaping trick culture online that revolves around the simple pleasure and physical fun of vaping.
Similar to smoking a shisha pipe, some people enjoy the social aspects and community culture of vaping. Some cities have a thriving social scene based around vape culture.
Is it Safe to Vape Without Nicotine?
What The Research Says
Research shows it is relatively harmless to vape nicotine free, unflavored e-juices. However, this is not something people often choose to do. People who vape nicotine-free are more likely to choose a complex or high-concentration flavor to enhance their enjoyment, increasing their exposure to flavorings.
Any food-grade flavouring can be used in an e-juice, yet digestion of food involves multiple breakdown processes before the final nutrients hit our bloodstream. When you vape, vapor enters the lungs and goes directly in the bloodstream, so we do not really know the effects that inhaled flavorings are having on our lungs and body. Limited research shows that some e-juice flavorings carry higher risk profiles than others . Ultra-sweet flavors are now proven to damage your teeth, similar to sugary drinks . Apple flavour (hexyl acetate) and triacetin are responsible for this effect. Other studies show that cinnamon flavor may cause harm to your lungs, due to the compound cinnamaldehyde . Diacetyl, found in some e-juice flavours (at levels 700 times lower than tobacco), can have devastating effects on the lungs when inhaled in its pure powdered form. Due to this, diacetyl is rarely used anymore .
Side Effects of Vaping Without Nicotine
Less minor and short term side-effects
Some studies have shown vaping has less minor and short term side-effects if it is nicotine free [5, 6]. However, similar to smoking, it is not the nicotine in e-cigarettes that carries potential health risks – it’s the compounds found in some e-cigarette flavorings . The good news is, if you choose to vape nicotine-free unflavored e-juices, you are doing very little harm to your body.
Known short-term side effects of vaping without nicotine, that will occur regardless of the flavor, include:
- Dry cough
- Throat irritation
The Risk Of Vaping
The risks associated with vaping aren’t due to the nicotine – people who vape with or without nicotine are exposed to similar risks. People who vape without nicotine may in fact be increasing their risk of harmful effects, if they are replacing a nicotine hit with a flavoring that is high-concentration or ultra sweet. It is important to remember that although the risks of vaping exist, the possibility of these risks resulting in real health issues over time is unlikely.
Because of the lack of research into the long term effects of vaping, health professionals never recommended for a non-smoker to take up vaping as a hobby. When compared to smoking, experts believe vaping is relatively harmless. Vaping should only be used as a tool to stop smoking, as it is not entirely risk free, with or without nicotine.
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