Vape - a better alternative of nicotine?

Vape or e-cigarettes - who is not familiar with them? This cigarette substitute is already commonly used by various social circles - even in academic environments. People who switch from traditional cigarettes to vape typically assume that vape has less risk than traditional cigarettes. In addition, many consider that vape typically does not harm others around the user, as exhaust fumes from vape produce a certain smell.

However, is it true that vape has a lower risk for its users and their surrounding environment?

Vape or e-cigarettes is a tool used to heat liquids into aerosols (U.S. Surgeon General's, 2016). The liquid heated with vape contains nicotine, chemical compounds such as deactyl, ethyl alcohol which are useful as chemical flavoring, organic compounds, and heavy metals (U.S. Surgeon General, 2016; Tierney, et. Al, 2016). Through the vape fluid vapor, these compounds enter the body through the respiratory tract.

Most side effects of vaping cannot be felt directly. However, as more compounds from the vape fluid are exposed to the body, more side effects will be felt. Chemical compounds from vape aerosols can easily enter the body through the respiratory tract, mouth, or skin absorption, which increase the chances of other compounds entering the body. Some side effects caused by vaping vary from irritation of the respiratory tract to cancer (Tierney, et. Al, 2016; CDC, 2019). This shows that vaping is equally as dangerous as traditional cigarettes.

Then why is vape becoming more famous and considered less harmful than traditional cigarettes?

Aside from the substances they contain, traditional cigarettes are considered dangerous because they are addictive. But what about vape? Is vape not addictive? What actually causes traditional cigarettes to be so addictive?

The addictive nature is caused by the presence of nicotine in cigarette materials. Nicotine increases dopamine levels and disrupts the chemical balance in the brain. Nicotine from traditional cigarettes will reach the brain little by little through a long period of time, so that more intake of cigarettes is needed to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Meanwhile, in vape, nicotine will be channeled more quickly using the body's ability to absorb aerosols, such that dopamine levels will quickly be met (Knight-West & Bullen, 2016). When someone stops taking nicotine, an imbalance of chemical compounds in the brain will cause physical and psychological disorders such as mood swings and the desire to consume nicotine again (Kandola, 2019).

Studies show that vape can reduce dependence on traditional cigarettes. Other than being able to fulfill dopamine needs faster, vape can also replace smoking gait and habits which also contribute to increasing dopamine. Vaping does not depict the usual process of smoking, which is normally reflected in the habits of smoking, such as burning cigarettes, sucking, and exhaling smoke. The lack of these habits in vaping is thought to be the key to reducing smoking habits (Knight-West & Bullen, 2016). Dopamine will decrease when the smoking habit is lost, due to the absence of relapse after dopamine withdraw.

However, addiction to vaping can still occur. This is caused by the nicotine content in vape fluid. In addition, other studies have shown that vaping can initiate and increase the risk of dependence on both conventional cigarettes and vape itself in the next 6 months (Leventhal, et. Al., 2016). Addiction to vape is caused by nicotine which can be added in high amounts just by  increasing the voltage of the device and using extra-cartridge to increase the concentration of nicotine. Also, the flavor added to vape fluids can influence someone's desire to try and continue vaping. Addiction to vaping is also influenced by the assumption that vaping is not dangerous and not the same as conventional smoking because there is no smell produced from cigarette smoke, but rather the taste produced by additional flavorings when heating vape fluids (Blaha, 2019).

Some of these facts show that vaping is just as dangerous and addictive as using conventional cigarettes. On top of that, the dangers of nicotine and other chemical compounds can damage and affect the body both physically and psychologically. These certainly prove that vaping is not a wise alternative to replace conventional cigarettes and to stop nicotine dependence.


Learn more about smoking and mental health at Seribu Tujuan

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