Nicotine has a reputation as a highly addictive chemical that causes hundreds of thousands of deaths every year but this reputation is based on the chosen method of delivery of those who use it on a regular basis rather than the effects of the chemical itself. Cigarette smoke contains around 4,000 chemicals, of which 250 are known to be harmful to humans. These include formaldehyde and benzene, both of which are carcinogenic in addition to arsenic, lead, hydrogen cyanide, and carbon monoxide, to name just a few. It is believed to be the presence of these chemicals, along with copious amounts of tar, that are the real cause of ill health in smokers, not nicotine.
In a study that was published in August 2015, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), an independent charity dedicated to promoting public health initiatives in the United Kingdom, stated that the consumption of nicotine in low concentrations was not harmful to one’s health and although it is known to increase heart rate and blood pressure, there is no known association between nicotine consumption and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. It is the other chemicals present in cigarettes that cause so much damage to people’s health. Caffeine is another substance that is known to increase heart rate and blood pressure temporarily, and, in common with nicotine, is not associated with any increased risk of cardiovascular events.
So, Is Nicotine Really as Harmless as Caffeine?
While some experts think that it would be better if people refrained from consuming both caffeine and nicotine in any form whatsoever, others feel that the effects of doing so are not particularly serious. If the RSPH study is to be believed, and there is no reason why it should not be, coming as it does from such a reputable source, consuming nicotine is no worse for you than having a few cups of coffee a day. Most people would agree that there is nothing wrong with enjoying the odd latte, cappuccino or espresso so presumably they would feel the same way about nicotine if it could be consumed without the need to smoke tobacco.
As you are probably already aware, it is of course very easy to consume nicotine without smoking. In addition to NRT products such as patches and gum, which are sometimes available on the NHS, e-cigarettes have been providing people with a far safer way to consume nicotine for more than ten years now. Whether it is OK to consume nicotine is, however, a personal choice that everybody must make for themselves. All we can say is that, according to the RSPH report and other recent studies, having a few puffs on an e-cigarette at certain times throughout the day is comparable to enjoying a freshly brewed coffee in many ways.
Also published in August 2015 were the findings of a study commissioned by Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of the Department of Health in the UK. These findings concluded that e-cigs are around 95% less harmful than conventional cigarettes. Taking the results of the two reports together, it certainly requires no leap of faith to come to the conclusion that nicotine, when consumed in a vapour rather than in tobacco smoke, is no more harmful than the caffeine contained in your daily coffees.
Much Lower Concentrations of Harmful Chemicals
There are far fewer harmful chemicals to be found in e-cigarette vapour than in smoke from tobacco products. Those chemicals that can be found in both, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, are present in concentrations between 9 and 450 times lower in the vapour produced from e-liquids. These figures were taken from a test involving 12 leading brands of e-cigarette so while they cannot be said to cover every product that is currently for sale around the world, they were at least calculated by testing a sizable sample of electronic cigarettes.
Giving Up the Evil Weed
For those who would like to continue enjoying nicotine on a daily basis but would dearly love to quit smoking, e-cigarettes have proven to be a highly effective tool. Surveys of people who have attempted to quit highlighted the fact that people who used e-cigs on a daily basis were 6 times more likely to have stopped smoking tobacco than those who did not. This is of course, based on what the people who were surveyed actually said but there does not seem to be any reason why those who used electronic cigarettes would be any less truthful about their attempts to quit than those who did not.
What Can You Take Away from These Reports?
Digesting all the information in the reports referred to in this article is not something you are likely to want to do in one go and even the information we have covered here may take some time to sink in. If you would rather not spend your free time contemplating the implications of the various studies that have been carried out, you can use the handy summary below instead.
• Nicotine Does Not Increase Your Risk of Cardiovascular Events – According to these reports, consuming nicotine alone will not increase your risk of suffering from cardiovascular conditions in the long term. While nicotine does increase your heart rate, in much the same was as caffeine does, it is not thought to have any lasting negative effect on your health.
• Use Caffeine and Nicotine in Moderation – The findings contained in the RSPH report were based on consuming low levels of nicotine and doctors have already warned people not to overdo it as far as their coffee intake is concerned. With these two facts in mind, it is safe to say that one should use both of these substances in moderation.
Whether your aim is to cease nicotine usage altogether or to stop obtaining your daily dose from tobacco smoke, e-cigarettes could help you to achieve your goal more easily than any of the alternative methods and products that have been tried in the past.