Is Vaping E-cigarettes as Addictive as Smoking?

The latest trend that has taken the world (read: smokers) by storm is vaping. The popularity of the trend can be judged by a simple fact that you will find a vape shop in almost every community. The common belief that has caused a surge in the popularity of e-cigs and other vaping products is that they are less addictive than the traditional cigarettes. Moreover, they are also proven to have less harmful effects when compared to regular cigarettes. Hence, a number of people are becoming a part of this latest trend of vaping.

Why is Nicotine Addictive?


Nicotine when absorbed into the bloodstream stimulates the adrenal glands which in turn release a hormone called epinephrine, this is adrenalin. The central nervous system is stimulated by the elevated levels of adrenalin and starts to increase blood pressure, breathing and heart rate.  The nicotine like many other drugs also increases the levels of dopamine in the brain. This chemical messenger affects the parts of the brain that control pleasure. the same reward mechanism that people feel from eating or taking other drugs. This reward feeling for some people is so pleasant that they are motivated to stimulate themselves time and again. this leads to long term brain changes that results in a habit or addiction.

Previous research has revealed a compound called acetaldehyde in tobacco. This is believed to intensified the nicotine's effect on the brain. However perhaps the most interesting finding was that research into acetaldehyde found its effects correlate with age. So younger brains that were still developing were more susceptible to the enhancing effect it showed.

The developing brain is also very susceptible to the reward mechanism of dopamine and can be highly influenced by the long-term brain changes, after all it still growing. It is for this reason the FDA and British Medical Council as well as a number of other bodies have strengthened the law to help protect minors from the exposure to vaping.

So while nicotine is certainly an addictive substance it appears that tobacco could be more addictive. There are also a certain amount of social and psychological factors that contribute to why cigarettes are so addictive and these can't be underestimate.


Are E-cigs More Addictive Than Cigarettes?


A study in 2015 caused some concern among the e-cig users as it suggested that vaping can lead to a stronger addiction of nicotine as compared to the use of regular cigarettes. The study found out that the vast majority of eliquid they tested contained the most addictive type of nicotine - free-base nicotine. This is quickly and easily absorbed into the body when vaping more so than when smoking. Another concern was that the levels of nicotine present in e-liquid was frequently higher than what was stated on the bottles.

It was explained in the study that since nicotine, when smoked from vapes, gets absorbed directly into the smoker’s body it may make them more addictive to it. Moreover, it can also make it difficult for the individual to quit the habit of vaping once they have gotten used to it.

However contrary to this is more recent research by released by Penn State College of Medicine. This took data from an ongoing national survey with over 30,000 participants. It focused on a sample 3586 regular smokers and vapers, looking at their respective smoking and vpaing habits.

This study concluded that vapers have fewer cravings and didn't vape until later in the day when compared to smokers who lit up earlier.  These findings validate the general message that while vaping is still putting chemicals into your body it is certainly not as bad for you as smoking. A follow up study is planned that will also take blood and urine samples to validate the previous data.


What are the other Concerns?

Various experts believe that despite the excessive amount of nicotine, e-cigs and other vaping products that you will find in a vape shop can help to reduce the unhealthy risks associated with regular smoking.

Furthermore, cigarettes have various other chemicals (more than 4000), apart from nicotine, which makes them far unhealthier as compared to vapes. Those experts, who are in favor of vaping, believe that vapes and e-cigs are perfect substitutes for the smokers if they want to get rid of the unhealthy effects now linked to regular cigarettes. Even if they are vaping high nicotine content ejuice, they are not causing as much damage to their health as regular cigarettes would.

The experts further believe that since e-cigs do not contain tobacco they do not pose much harm to our bodies from a health point of view. Cigarettes are known to be lethal more so because of the presence of tobacco and the tar that is inhaled when burning tobacco at the higher temperatures required in smoking.  There are also many other health damaging chemicals that take a toll on the body.

But it appears for now at least that vaping should be endorsed as a tool to reduce the harm of tobacco and help smokers quit tobacco. And all experts agree that more long term studies are required to fully determin the health benefits and dangers posed by vaping.

So, all the vapers out there can breathe a sigh of relief. You can head to your nearest vape shop and enjoy your favorite flavored. However, as they say, excess of anything can be bad, so, it is wise to keep a healthy balance to lead a healthy life. 

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