Is nicotine bad for you?

As confusion about the health risks of nicotine stop smokers switching to less harmful alternatives, Vapouround Editor Patrick Griffin gives his thoughts on the subject.

In the world of vaping, seven years can see monumental change and this is especially true the field of technological advancement.

However, there are some things which are as true and relevant now as they were back in 2015.

One such issue is the health effects of nicotine and the common misconception that it is dangerous.

I was reminded of this when a 2015 report from the Royal Society of Public Health was recently referenced on social media.

The RSPH had been ‘alarmed’ at research it had commissioned which found that 90 percent of people wrongly thought nicotine was harmful.

The independent charity said nicotine was ‘no more harmful to health than caffeine’ and called for better public education to get the message across.

Today, this misconception is still one of the key factors preventing smokers from switching to reduced risk alternatives such as vaping.

Given that the Khan Review into the UK’s 2030 smokefree ambitions said vaping must play an important role in hitting this target, educating smokers is of vital importance.

The RSPH said: “Nicotine is harmful in cigarettes largely because it is combined with other damaging chemicals such as tar and arsenic.

“As a highly addictive substance, getting hooked on nicotine is one of the prime reasons why people become dependent on cigarettes.

“Electronic cigarettes and Nicotine Replacement Therapy contain nicotine but don’t contain the harmful substances found in cigarettes.”

According to the RSPH, harmful substances found in cigarettes include: – Benezene and formaldehyde – carcinogenic chemicals – Lead and arsenic – toxic metals – Hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide – toxic gases

It said: “Evidence suggests that, when consumed in low concentrations, nicotine is not deleterious to health; it does not appear to be a direct carcinogen and…is not associated with an increase in acute cardiovascular events amongst users.

“The harm instead occurs when the presence of nicotine in cigarettes encourages dependency on a product containing 69 carcinogens, as well as the many other dangerous chemicals found in cigarettes.”

It is saddening to think that in the seven years since the RSPH highlighted this problem, there is still a huge perception that nicotine is the harmful compound in cigarettes.

And, even worse, those with an anti-tobacco harm reduction agenda, want to refocus the ‘quit smoking’ message to ‘quit nicotine’ instead.

Would it not make more sense to educate smokers on the real relative risks between smoking, vaping and other cigarette alternatives so that they can make informed decisions?

Would it not be better to take the emotion of youth vaping out of the equation and have a more honest debate about harm reduction?

Underage vaping must, instead, be tackled with robust enforcement of the law, backed up with heavy fines and other sanctions which would make retailers think twice before selling to children.

And finally, should we not concentrate on getting smokers off deadly cigarettes before trying to get people off consuming relatively harmless nicotine?

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