Despite what you may think of e-cigarettes, they’re a blessing for people who can’t—or won’t—kick the habit.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirms that vaping is safer for you than old-fashioned cigarettes, delivering nicotine without some of the nastier related chemicals.
Any help is welcome. According to the Centers for Disease Control, smoking kills nearly 6 million people each year, nearly a half million of those in the United States. If you’re average, you’ll live 10 years longer as a nonsmoker than as a smoker. Indeed, the extensive list of diseases caused by smoking includes heart disease, stroke, various lung diseases and diabetes.
For years, of course, we were given the impression that smoking was the epitome of cool. Louis Armstrong and Count Basie hawked Camels. Gary Cooper peddled Chesterfields. Rod Serling pushed various cigarettes on the Twilight Zone.
But of course there were consequences. Serling died of heart disease at 50, Cooper of cancer when he was 60. Armstrong made it to 69 before a heart attack killed him. And Basie died of pancreatic cancer at 79.
Even the Marlboro Man—cool personified—was not immune. No fewer than four men who made appearances as the iconic cowboy seem to have died from smoking-related illnesses: two from lung cancer, one from prostate cancer and one from COPD.
In the Annals of Internal Medicine study, researchers got smokers to switch to either e-cigarettes or nicotine patches for at least six months, then measured toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in their bodies. The researchers found that metabolites of substances such as tobacco-specific nitrosamines and volatile organic compounds were way down in both vapers and patch users compared to cigarette smokers.
While the study stops far short of saying that vaping is good for you, it does point out that there is risk, and then there is risk. If you can’t live without putting nicotine in your body, there are options that won’t kill you—or at least will kill you a whole lot slower.