So, what's really the deal with vaping?
E-cigarettes are taking off in Australia, but debate rages on about whether they're actually a safer alternative to regular cigarettes, in the wake of dozens of deaths overseas due to what is believed to be vaping-related illnesses.
There is lots of chatter around from previously reformed smokers, who claim vaping is "safer" than smoking regular cigarettes.
But is that really true? We asked Australian cardiothoracic surgeon (that means heart and lung) Dr Nikki Stamp to break down the science and tell us exactly what the go is with vaping.
1. What does science tell us about vaping?
"The most important thing about vaping and the science of it is that it's early days.
"We have so many years of knowledge about smoking but with vaping, we just don't have that knowledge. The general finding though is that vaping may be less harmful than cigarette smoking, which is why some studies have shown that it is a useful quit tool for some smokers.
"However, what is now being questioned is how harmful it is for non-smokers."
2. Is vaping bad for your lungs?
"There are a number of chemicals that may be present in vaping that could be harmful for our lungs.
"Cartridges, especially those bought overseas, may contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and there is some research to suggest that in teenagers, vaping use may lead to cigarette smoking."
3. Is vaping a good way for heavy cigarette smokers to wean themselves off smoking, if they're finding it hard to quite?
"It's just far too early to say that they are absolutely safe at the moment. If you want to consider using them as a quit aid, I'd strongly advise talking to your doctor about all of your options before settling on vaping.
"It's also important to keep in mind that in Australia, you cannot sell cartridges containing nicotine or any other drug, but they are very easy to buy online so be mindful that if you're buying overseas, you may not know what you're getting."
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3. What about these cases we've heard about overseas where people have died from vaping-related illnesses? Is there science to prove that vaping causes severe health issues?
"Most recently, a big study from America was published in the New England Journal of Medicine where they looked at 53 people who were generally otherwise well and came to hospital with breathing issues which were likely due to vaping.
"A third wound up on a breathing machine and one death was reported. The exact cause is unknown but there was some suggestion that cartridges that contain THC or cannabis were particularly nasty for the lungs.
"The exact cause isn't known yet and there will absolutely be more study on this, but I think that this was one of the first studies to show that while we think vaping may not be as bad as cigarette smoking, it's certainly not completely risk free and there is a lot more to learn."
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