E-cigarettes are killing us softly with their vapor

e-cigarette

(Finn Gross Maurer, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Weronika Piórek, a 3rd year medical student from University of Rzeszów. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


You can’t avoid e-cigarettes in this day and age. This pocket-sized temptation entices us with wide range of tastes and scents, attractive design and, seemingly, being a safer alternative to traditional smoking. Recalling the words of great Paracelsus: “Omnia sunt venena, nihil est sine veneno. Sola dosis facit venenum.” we should carefully consider pros and cons of vaping.

E-cigarette – a deceptive trend or safer alternative?

The pro e-cigarette lobbies outvie each other for factual and reliable pros for vaping. Their principal argument is that e-cigarettes help people stop smoking. But how can one quit life-threatening addiction having Cookie Bite or Freaky Donut as alternative to traditional cigarette? This feature should be associated with sweetened lollipops recommended for children suffering from sore throat. Our society is raising up small drug abusers treating medicines as if they were sweets. E-cigarette producers mess big addicts around, proposing them aromatic, sweet poison. Do you remember “Lemon Tree” by Fool’s Garden? I wonder why people are constantly fooling themselves.

You are licking your wounds? You’d better not vape!

Are you dreaming of plastic surgery? E-cigarettes should be no more considered as safe and harmless. They, too, contain nicotine, as combustible cigarettes do. Not only is nicotine causing peripheral vasoconstriction (decreasing blood flow to tissues and skin), it also brings about oxidative stress. Moreover, it weakens neutrophil function, which worsens wound healing process through bunch of mechanisms. Research in rats (which have been exposed to tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapor compared with room air) showed no significant differences between research samples. Both were almost equally harmful and worsened cicatrization at comparable rates. What it means to you is that you definitely should cease smoking in case you have your nose operated on.

Mexican Cactus  or “Roman Holiday” – which is better?

Having discussed the public health aspects of vaping we can seamlessly skip to the financial point. The estimated cost of exemplary starter kit fluctuates from 150 to 300 zlotys. We still need liquids and aromas to have our e-cigarette ready for use. A unit cost is admittedly lower but it does make us addicted, doesn’t it? Imagine a chain-smoker becoming a shopaholic thanks to the fact that he can buy himself California dreaming for only 12.99 zlotys. Mexican Cactus flavour? I prefer to plan a trip to Mexico rather than to leave my money in the Vape Shop.

The snake oil medicine gang is convincing us of indispensability of dietary supplements, basing its reasoning on a small sample of anecdotal evidence. The pro vapers lobby’s activity pulls the wool over eyes of their customers, presenting e-cig as a beneficial alternative to combustible cigarettes. Unfortunately, the studies do not back this argument. Vaping declared as cheaper and tasty could be even more fatal. Nicotine toxicity and addiction are matters we always should be aware of.

About the author

Weronika Piórek is 3rd year medical student from University of Rzeszów. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations, currently holds the position of Local Officer on Medical Education and National SCOME Team Member for the Curriculum. She is keen on emergency and internal medicine. Since 5 years a volunteer rescuer in Malta Medical Service. Passionate about travelling, meeting new people and learning new skills.

 

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Comments

  1. E-cigarettes are a considerable alternative for smokers who – after decades of tobacco abuse – cannot just give up smoking. As the fluid is evaporated there is no release of all these carcinogenic compounds which occur in tobacco smoke. I compare it with cooking a pizza or burning it. Weronika Piórek may have never been addicted to tobacco and very likely cannot emphasis how hard it is giving up a lifelong habit. BTW, nicotine is part of many over the counter pharmaceutical products. It’s not the nicotine that kills most people, it’s the smoke.

    • “The pro vapers lobby’s activity pulls the wool over eyes of their customers, presenting e-cig as a beneficial alternative to combustible cigarettes. Unfortunately, the studies do not back this argument.”

      But Weronika Piórek does not cite a single peer-reviewed study, leave alone meta study, which would back her argument. Where are these studies, Ms Piórek?

  2. A very unbalanced shallow account portrayed by this author. How does she account for every Public Health body including the Government in the UK adopt a supportive position towards Vaping. New Zealand has just announced a similarly supportive approach from its government. These bodies all required evidence to contemplate this, unlike the nonsense that is frequently published in mainstream media. I do hope that the author reflects upon the fact that approximately 50% of her intended profession have the misapprehension that nicotine is the harmful ingredient of tobacco cigarettes. Doctors, unless they do the research of the ~4000 papers re Vaping are no better informed than a general public fed incomplete sensationalist and often malicious paid for content.

  3. Ms. Weronika Piórek – crawl back under your stone.

    This is the most single eyed argumentation I ever read of vaping vs smoking. It is very clear the author never had a smoke in her entire life.
    The nicotine in a vaping device is equal to the nicotine in any cigarette – leave the 7000 different kinds of poisons that the Big Tobacco puts into the cigarettes to make us – the former smokers, now vapers – even more addicted to the bad habit of smoking.
    Nicotine – in the amount given to us by vaping or smoking cigarettes – is not harmful. Telling us that we can’t have plastic surgery because of our intake of nicotine is a joke.

    The article is not giving Ms.Piórek any better grades due to the lack of arguments. This is purely her own meanings, off her head, taken from her point of view as the besserwisser she is.

    I do not know the value of zlotys, but I myself used to spend approx us$ 4.000 a year on cigarettes. Now I spend les than us$ 1.000 on vaping. Including a new device now and then. On top of that, my doc tells me that my lungs are much better and my overall condition at age 70 is like I was 60. 🙂

    If you’re keen on learning new skills, here’s a hint for you:
    Talk to Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos.

  4. “But how can one quit life-threatening addiction having Cookie Bite or Freaky Donut as alternative to traditional cigarette?”

    You post this as a rhetorical question the “answer” you give shows that you already have formed and opinion and never bothered to really ask a vaper or read one of the many stories explaining it. Like mine (Click on my name),

    If you really are “Passionate about travelling, meeting new people and learning new skills” I challenge you to travel to Warsaw and meet new people, including me. There will be hundreds of educated, passionate consumers and scientists from all over the world you can meet at the Global Forum on Nicotine in June:
    https://gfn.net.co/

  5. Kal Breadmore says:

    I am sorry to learn that a medical student is so unfamiliar with the idea of evidence based medicine that she does not understand that she needs to cite studies which support her claims. Since no study does, this ommission is perhaps understandable. Further study of the effects of vaping will always be needed, but that fact should not lead us to disregard what we know now. We know that, used as a smoking cessation device, e-cigarettes have the potential to avert the needless early deaths of 7 million smokers in the next ten years. Weronika Piórek, perhaps you could consider this death toll – and how publishing this article relates to the Hippocratic Oath.

  6. Jon Ingall says:

    A medical student? For the love of god, do not submit this piece of biased, opinionated nonsense as part of your studies.
    This is an opinion, nothing more. A very misguided opinion, at that.

    Can you actually quote anything to back up what you have written?
    Smoke, with its 7000+ combustion products, several other nicotine-related alkaloids, and 69 known carcinogens, contributes to the premature deaths of millions each and every year. Now check the numbers for vaping. None. In over a decade. Users report significantly improved health, and many studies have repeatedly shown nearly all tobacco-related toxins to be either totally absent or orders of magnitude lower than cigarette smoke. To tar ecigs as you have is naive and quite frankly, scientifically incorrect.
    After over a decade, we’d surely be seeing some kind of negative health effects by now, should they exist. And guess what- we’re not.

    Medical studies and papers are supposed to be evidence-based, and incorporate references and data to back up the writer’s point.
    I’m afraid to say, this piece does completely the opposite, and would make a fine example of a biased, personal-ideology based opinion piece.

    You may have your strengths, but this piece of codswallop shows that they do not lie in this subject. I recommend retraction, for the sake of your future career.

  7. Disregarding the e-cigarette part, human made water vapor can’t cause global warming. Yes, water vapor is responsible for 50% of the greenhouse effect on Earth, but human activity can’t drastically increase its concentration like it can with carbon dioxide.

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