THE FACT OF THE MATTER
A lifetime ago I argued that to smoke was to be cool
and hip like those idols in the Saturday matinee. I mean, be honest, what would Bogart and Bacall and Casablanca have been like were it not for those off-grey wisps trailing across Bogie’s face as he looked longingly and lustfully into Lauren’s eyes? (Cigarette smoke plays wonders with soft focus).
By the time I was rearing a family, the jury was well and truly back in with a damning verdict on the health implications of smoking tobacco.
The past eight years I vape. E-cigarettes and vaping is
a way to ingest nicotine – without the smoke and tar that comes from burning tobacco. The vaping device, a mod, contains a battery that heats a liquid spiked with nicotine, producing a vapour the user inhales.
Finally, I thought, a way to smoke that wouldn’t totally derail my health, given that manufactured cigarettes contain at least 400 poisonous and proven carcinogenic compounds not, allegedly, found in vaping juice, which is basically nicotine in a vegetable suspension.
I vape now, and find it a much more satisfying – if smoking could be said to be satisfying – way of getting my daily nicotine fix. And judging by the slew of vaping shops up and down the country, I am not alone.
The economic saving is a given: smoking a pack of fags a day will set you back €112 a week, the annual equivalent to the cost of a good holiday abroad. Vaping, after the initial set-up costs for a mod and a tank for the juice, sets me back the princely sum of €7 a week.
I like, too, the aesthetics of vaping, and the ergonomics of the machines, of which I now have as many as, once, I had train sets in my attic. Also, my local pub allows me to vape discreetly. (When it’s a full house, I desist).
What of the health implications, though? The jury is apparently calling for a retrial of vaping, following recent deaths, allegedly from electronic smoking,
in the US and hundreds of others taking ill. RTE’s Claire byrne radio show was wall-to- wall pro and anti vaping last week. Vaping per se off the hook when it comes to asking if it is healthier, or better still, less harmful, than tobacco smoking. You are, after all, inhaling nicotine into your lungs. Nicotine is addictive but only minimally potentially poisonous. However, it is the suspensions and artificial agents used, particularly in flavoured juices – hugely popular with young users – that are questionable.
The reality is that we know nothing about the long-term health implications of vaping, given the habit has been around for only 15 years or so. There has not been enough, if any, research done on the matter. Given the numerous manufacturers of vaping machines and juices, there is no official record of the exact constituents of these varying juices or of the safety of some of the gadgetry, what with occasional reporting of mods exploding in people’s faces.
Like the tobacco business was – still is – a multi-billion dollar industry, worldwide, the market for vaping products was estimated at about $14.5 billion last year, and growing rapidly. You can be certain that there are vested interests hell-bent on keeping the lid tight on any harmful health implications associated with this vaping trend.
With the jury just left the room, the medical profession here, and elsewhere, is divided on the issue. Medics here are keeping a close eye on developments with the FDA in America. “It’s all very days early yet,” says Professor Stephen Lane, a consultant respiratory physician at Tallaght University Hospital in Dublin.
Meanwhile, you can bet your bottom euro a hefty tax will soon be slapped on vaping, long before the jury comes back on its health implications.