Vaping Myths: What Are the Facts?

Vaping Myths: What Are the Facts?

Oct 12, 2023High fi

Vaping Myths: What Are the Facts?

Vaping is popular in the UK as a safer alternative to smoking. They attract many people who want a less harmful option. However, this surge in popularity has also led to the spread of myths and misinformation. In this article, our goal is to debunk prevalent vaping myths, providing you with accurate information grounded in scientific research and government regulations.

Throughout this article, we'll unravel the web of misconceptions surrounding vaping, shedding light on the truth supported by reputable health institutions such as the NHS, Cancer Research UK, Public Health England (PHE), British Heart Foundation (BHF), ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), leading health professionals, and the British Government.

As responsible vaping advocates, our objective is to arm you with the knowledge necessary to make an informed decision about whether vaping aligns with your journey away from cigarette smoking.

Learn the truth about vaping to make informed decisions for your health. We'll dispel myths and provide empowering facts. It's time to clear the air and uncover the truth surrounding vaping.

“Vapes aren’t regulated and we don’t know what’s in them”

Debunking Common Myths About Vaping in the UK

12 Vaping Myths and the Facts

Myth 1: “Vaping is as harmful as smoking cigarettes”

Debunked: Vaping is not as harmful as smoking cigarettes. Numerous scientific studies have shown that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking. Public Health England (PHE) states that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes. While vaping is not entirely risk-free, it offers a much safer alternative for smokers looking to quit.

Burning cigarettes releases harmful chemicals, including 70 that can cause cancer. Most of the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke, including tar and carbon monoxide, are not contained in vape aerosol.

Switching from smoking to vaping significantly reduces exposure to harmful substances. These substances can cause various health issues such as cancer, lung disease, heart disease, dementia, stroke, and more.

The NHS Says… Nicotine vaping is not risk-free, but it is substantially less harmful than smoking.” Source: Vaping Myths and the Facts

Cancer Research UK says… “Research so far shows that legal e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking.” Source: Is Vaping Harmful?

ASH says… “Vaping an e-cigarette is much less harmful than smoking a tobacco cigarette because tobacco smoke is not inhaled. Most of the toxins in tobacco smoke are not found in the vapour of e-cigarettes and those that are present are at much lower levels – mostly below 1%.” Source: Electronic Cigarettes Fact Sheet

Professor Sir Chris Whitty says… “The key points about vaping (e-cigarettes) can be easily summarised. If you smoke, vaping is much safer; if you don’t smoke, don’t vape.” Source: Chief Medical Officer for England on Vaping

Public Health England says… Vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking: “Vaping poses only a small fraction of the risks of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial benefits over continued smoking.”

RSPH (Royal Society For Public Health) says… “Among smokers who have never vaped, only 1 in 8 (12%) correctly believe e-cigarettes are a lot less harmful than cigarettes.” Source: Smoking Cessation and E-Cigarettes

Hazel Cheeseman, Deputy Chief Executive of ASH says… “The Government has backed a vaping strategy as its path to reduce rates of smoking, but this approach will be undermined if smokers don’t try vapes due to safety fears or stop vaping too soon and revert to smoking. The Government must act quickly to improve public understanding that vaping poses a fraction of the risk of smoking.” Source: Four in Ten Smokers Wrongly Believe That Vaping is as or More Harmful as Smoking

Myth 2: “Vapes aren’t regulated and we don’t know what’s in them”

Debunked: Vapes in the UK are regulated. The United Kingdom boasts some of the world's most stringent regulations for e-cigarettes. Governed by the Tobacco and Related Product Regulations 2016 (TRPR). Vape products including e-liquids and vape kits are subject to minimum standards of quality and safety, as well as packaging and labelling requirements to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed choices.

Manufacturers must notify the UK Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) about all products, providing detailed information that includes the listing of all ingredients.

E-liquids used in regulated vaping products adhere to strict safety standards. They typically contain a few simple ingredients: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine (optional), and food-grade flavourings. When purchased from reputable sources, e-liquids are safe for consumption.

Always purchase your vape supplies from specialist vape shops, and reputable suppliers to ensure they are covered by UK safety and quality regulations.

The NHS says… “In the UK, e-cigarettes are tightly regulated for safety and quality.” Source: Using E-Cigarettes to Stop Smoking

UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) says… “The UK has well established regulation for e-cigarettes. Under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016, nicotine containing e-cigarette products are subject to minimum standards of quality and safety, as well as packaging and labelling requirements to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed choices.

Advertising is tightly restricted and all products must be notified by manufacturers with detailed information to the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which prohibits certain ingredients.” Source: 8 Things to Know About E-Cigarettes

Myth 3: “Nicotine is harmful to your health”
“Nicotine is harmful to your health”

Debunked: While nicotine is addictive, it is relatively harmless to health.

Cancer Research UK says… “Nicotine is the chemical that makes cigarettes addictive. But it is not responsible for the harmful effects of smoking, and nicotine does not cause cancer. People have safely used nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to stop smoking for many years. Nicotine replacement therapy is prescribed by doctors or is available from pharmacies.” Source: Is Vaping Harmful?

The NHS says… “While nicotine is the addictive substance in cigarettes, most of the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic.” Source: Using E-Cigarettes to Stop Smoking

ASH says… “Whilst nicotine is an addictive substance, it is not the exposure to nicotine that causes harm to smokers. Rather, it is the cocktail of other chemicals present in cigarettes that pose significant risks to smokers. E-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapies such as patches or gum allow smokers to get nicotine without having to inhale tobacco smoke. Vaping poses a fraction of the risk that smoking does.” Source: Quitting Smoking Through Vaping

The British Heart Foundation says… “Nicotine, while highly addictive, is not a significant health hazard for people without heart conditions.” Source: Is Vaping Safe?

UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) says… “Four out of 10 smokers and ex-smokers wrongly think nicotine causes most of the smoking-related cancers when evidence shows nicotine actually carries minimal risk of harm to health. Although nicotine is the reason people become addicted to smoking, it is the thousands of other chemicals contained in cigarette smoke that cause almost all of the harm.” Source: 8 Things to Know About E-Cigarettes

Myth 4: “Vaping is more addictive than smoking”

Debunked: While vaping does contain nicotine, which is addictive, it is generally considered less addictive than traditional cigarettes. Additionally, e-cigarettes offer the advantage of adjustable nicotine levels, allowing users to gradually reduce their nicotine intake, and aiding the quitting process.

London South Bank University (LSBU) has conducted new research and found that vaping is likely to be less addictive than smoking as smokers are more likely to smoke regardless of cost whereas vapers will set a limit on what they are willing to spend on e-cigarettes. Source: World-First Research Finds Vaping Likely to be Less Addictive than Smoking

Myth 5: “Exposure to second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes is as harmful as cigarette smoke”

“Exposure to second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes is as harmful as cigarette smoke”

Debunked: In contrast to second-hand smoke generated by cigarettes, second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes is unlikely to be harmful to bystanders. The aerosol produced by e-cigarettes contains fewer toxic substances and is present at significantly lower levels compared to cigarette smoke. Nevertheless, it's still considerate to vape in designated areas to respect others' preferences.

Cancer Research UK says… “There is no good evidence that second-hand vapour from e-cigarettes is harmful. As vaping is still relatively new, we can’t be sure there aren’t any long-term effects on people who breathe in someone else’s vapour. But this is unlikely to be harmful.

Passive vaping is not the same as passive smoking. This is because e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco.” Source: Is Vaping Harmful?

The NHS says… “While second-hand smoke from cigarettes causes serious harm to others, there is no evidence so far that vaping is harmful to people around you and any risks are likely to be very low.

But as a precaution, it is best not to vape around babies and children if you can avoid it. Young children often copy what adults do.

Always be considerate when vaping around anyone else, especially people with health conditions like asthma or other respiratory conditions, or people who do not like vaping.” Source: Vaping to Quit Smoking

The NHS says… “Smoking e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, doesn't produce tobacco smoke so the risks of passive smoking with conventional cigarettes don't apply to e-cigs.

Ongoing research suggests that e-cigs release very little nicotine into the air. Limited evidence shows that the risk of passive vaping to bystanders is small compared to tobacco cigarettes. But some health professionals have recommended avoiding vaping around pregnant women, babies and children.” Source: Passive Smoking

ASH says… “E-cigarette users can sometimes generate large clouds of vapour which to bystanders may look as troublesome as a cloud of cigarette smoke. However, researchers have not yet identified any risks of 'passive vaping'.

As the risk to vapers of inhaling e-cigarette vapour is low, the risk to those who breathe their exhaled vapour is even lower: concentrations of vaping-related chemicals are simply too low to have any impact. Furthermore, most secondhand tobacco smoke comes from the burning tip of the cigarette, not the smoker, but there is no such ‘sidestream’ vapour produced by e-cigarette users.” Source: Electronic Cigarettes Fact Sheet

UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) says… “The evidence is clear that exposure to second-hand smoke is harmful, which is why the UK has laws prohibiting smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces. These laws do not cover vaping and organisations are free to make their own policies on vaping on their premises.

Typically, e-cigarette liquid consists of nicotine, propylene glycol and/or glycerine, and flavourings. Unlike cigarettes, there is no side-stream vapour emitted by an e-cigarette into the atmosphere, just the exhaled aerosol.” Source: 8 Things to Know About E-Cigarettes

Myth 6: “Vaping doesn’t help you quit smoking”
“Vaping doesn’t help you quit smoking”

Debunked: Vaping has been proven to be an effective smoking cessation tool. Many smokers have successfully quit by transitioning to vaping. The combination of nicotine replacement therapy and behaviour support, including vaping, can significantly improve quit rates.

The NHS says… “You're roughly twice as likely to quit smoking if you use a nicotine vape compared with other nicotine replacement products, like patches or gum.” Source: Vaping to Quit Smoking

ASH says… “Vaping is positively associated with quitting smoking successfully. Findings from a recent report commissioned by Public Health England, (PHE) demonstrated that e-cigarettes are the most popular aid used in quit attempts.

In 2020, 27.2% of people used a vaping product in a quit attempt in the previous 12 months, compared with 15.5% who used NRT over the counter or on prescription (2.7%) and 4.4% who used varenicline.” Source: Electronic Cigarettes Fact Sheet

RSPH (Royal Society For Public Health) says… “E-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than cigarettes, with increasing evidence that they can aid smoking cessation.” Source: Smoking Cessation and E-Cigarettes

Dr Ruth Sharrock, Clinical Lead for Tobacco Dependency, North East and North Cumbria NHS Integrated Care Board says… “When I see patients who smoke they are already sick with smoking-related disease and have often given up hope of ever stopping. Vaping is a valuable tool in our armoury to tackle smoking, particularly for patients who are heavily addicted. However, too many of my patients have seen alarmist media headlines that worry them and put them off giving vaping a go.”

Myth 7: “Vaping is more expensive than smoking”
“Vaping is more expensive than smoking”

Debunked: Vaping offers a significant cost advantage over smoking traditional cigarettes. Initially, there may be an investment in purchasing a vape kit, but once you have the equipment, ongoing costs are substantially lower. E-liquids are more affordable than packs of cigarettes, and a single bottle can last for an extended period.

Choosing vaping instead of smoking can save a lot of money in the long run. Vaping costs about one-third of what smoking does, making it a cheaper and healthier option.

  • On the tesco.com website you can purchase Benson & Hedges Gold 20 pack of cigarettes for £15.86 which equates to £0.79 per cigarette. One cigarette will provide approximately 10 puffs. Therefore a 20-pack of cigarettes will provide approximately 200 puffs. Source: Tesco
  • On the Highfivape.com website you can purchase 3 x 10ml bottles of Elux Legend vape juice for £9.99 which equates to £3.33 per bottle. One bottle of e-liquid will provide approximately 3000 puffs. Therefore 3 x 10ml bottles will provide approximately 9000 puffs. Source: Highfivape

Cancer Research UK says… “Switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes could also save you a lot of money. Some people spend more than others, but in general, smoking costs over three times as much as vaping.” Source: Is Vaping Harmful?

Myth 8: “People use vapes more frequently than cigarettes, it must be more harmful”

Debunked: Every puff from a vape carries only a small fraction of the risks associated with a puff from a cigarette. Exposure levels to cancer-causing and other toxic substances are significantly lower in individuals who vape compared to those who smoke. This suggests that any potential health risks associated with vaping are likely to be a small fraction of those posed by smoking.

Dr Debbie Robson, a Senior Lecturer in Tobacco Harm Reduction King’s says… The levels of exposure to cancer causing and other toxicants are drastically lower in people who vape compared with those who smoke. Helping people switch from smoking to vaping should be considered a priority if the Government is to achieve a smoke-free 2030 in England.”

Myth 9: “One disposable vape is the equivalent of 40+ cigarettes”

Debunked: Disposable vapes in the UK like Lost Mary, Elf Bar, SKE Crystal Bar and Elux are filled with 2ml of e-liquid and can provide up to 600 puffs. A legal disposable vape in the UK delivers a similar amount of nicotine as 20 cigarettes.

A disposable vape that adheres to UK regulations and has the highest legally permitted nicotine level of 20mg/ml contains 2ml of liquid, equating to 40mg of nicotine in total. This typically delivers approximately 20mg of nicotine to the user.

In contrast, a standard pack of 20 cigarettes contains between 200 to 300mg of nicotine, resulting in an average delivery of 20 to 30mg of nicotine to the smoker.

The TRPR (Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016)

The TRPR (Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016) enforces minimum safety and quality standards for all e-cigarettes and refill containers, also referred to as e-liquids. These regulations aim to provide consumers with essential information for making informed choices while creating an environment that safeguards children from starting to use these products.

TRPR Requirements:

  • Restrict e-cigarette tanks to a capacity of no more than 2ml
  • Restrict the maximum volume of nicotine-containing e-liquid for sale in one refill container to 10ml
  • Restrict e-liquids to a nicotine strength of no more than 20mg/ml
  • Require nicotine-containing products or their packaging to be child-resistant and tamper evident
  • Ban certain ingredients including colourings, caffeine and taurine
  • Include new labelling requirements and warnings
  • Require all e-cigarettes and e-liquids be notified and published by the MHRA before they can be sold

Source: GOV.UK

Large capacity disposable vapes are illegal in the UK

Large capacity disposable vapes that are illegally being sold in the UK contain a lot more e-liquid than the 2ml allowance. The nicotine dose often exceeds 20mg of nicotine per millilitre of e-liquid, far higher than allowed. These illegal disposable vapes offer thousands of puffs, the equivalent of hundreds of cigarettes.

In many cases, the packaging does not include the correct information, the ingredients banned under the TRPR may still be present, and the MHRA has not notified them before selling.

Always buy your vapes from trusted dedicated vape shops to ensure you are purchasing legal and safe products. At Highfivape we carry a huge selection of disposables from the biggest names in the industry including Lost Mary, Elux, Elf Bar, SKE Crystal Bar and IVG to name a few. Shop with confidence online at Highfivape.com or visit one of our Highfivape vape store brick and mortar locations.

Myth 10: “Vaping causes Popcorn Lung”

What is Popcorn Lung?

Popcorn lung, technically known as bronchiolitis obliterans, is a rare lung condition. It occurs due to the build up of scar tissue in the lungs, obstructing the normal airflow.

A potential connection has been suggested between this condition and a chemical called diacetyl, although further research is required to establish a definitive link. The term "popcorn lung" originated from a group of factory workers in a popcorn plant who developed the condition after inhaling diacetyl, which was used as a buttery flavouring agent in the popcorn. This condition is not associated with the use of e-cigarettes.

While bronchiolitis obliterans is sometimes referred to as "popcorn lung," it can result from various factors. These include post-infection lung damage or exposure to irritating chemicals that harm the lungs.

Debunked: Vaping does not cause “popcorn lung” the common name for a rare disease called bronchiolitis obliterans.

While diacetyl is present in cigarette smoke, it is strictly prohibited as an ingredient in nicotine vapes and e-liquids regulated in the UK.

Traces of diacetyl have been found in certain vape juice flavours in the past, but, the levels detected are hundreds of times lower than what is present in cigarette smoke. Even at these reduced levels, smoking is not considered a significant risk factor for this uncommon disease.

Myth 11: “Vapes are dangerous and will explode causing injury”

Debunked: When used correctly and as intended, vapes are not considered dangerous or prone to exploding. Vaping devices are designed with built-in safety features (protections include: vaping over-time protection, short circuit protection, overheat protection, etc) to minimise risks, such as overheating or battery malfunctions. However, like any electronic device, improper handling, misuse, or use of unauthorised components can increase the likelihood of accidents.

It's crucial for users to follow manufacturers' instructions, use the recommended charging accessories, and avoid tampering with the devices to ensure a safe vaping experience. Additionally, purchasing quality products from reputable sources can further reduce the potential for accidents, making vaping a safe alternative to traditional smoking when used responsibly.

The vast majority of incidents referred to as "vaping explosions" are, in fact, the result of loose batteries being carried in pockets, rather than issues with vaping devices themselves.

It is vitally important that customers read our Battery Safety section fully before using and recharging their batteries.

London Fire Brigade says… “Smokers are 266 times more likely to have a fire than those who vape. Since 2014 there have been around 6000 fires caused by smoking materials, such as cigarettes and matches, but only 22 fires caused by e-cigarettes.” Source: Stoptober: Firefighters Urge Smokers to Vape to Prevent Fires

Tips for safe use

  • Buy e-cigarette devices from reputable retailers. Don’t buy counterfeit goods. Fire risks around vaping often come from counterfeit or faulty products.
  • Follow the instructions for use carefully and pay close attention to any warnings supplied with the product.
  • Never use vapes or e-cigarettes close to medical oxygen or where emollient creams or airflow mattresses are being used.

Batteries and charging

  • Only use the chargers that came with the device.
  • Never leave e-cigarettes charging unattended or on overnight.
  • Don’t leave items always on charge (after the charge cycle is complete).
  • Do not cover batteries that are on charge, in case of overheating.
  • Avoid storing, using, or charging batteries in extremes of high or low temperatures.
  • Protect batteries against being damaged, crushed or punctured and don’t immerse in water.
  • Never let your battery come into contact with metal items such as coins or keys in a pocket or bag, as this can cause a short circuit and explosion. Source: Vaping and E-Cigarettes: Know the Fire Risks

Myth 12: “Flavoured vapes are designed to target young people”

Debunked: Flavoured vapes are not created with the intention of targeting young people. Instead, they are developed to provide adult vapers with a wide range of enjoyable and diverse options.

Flavours play a crucial role in making the transition from smoking to vaping more appealing and successful for adults looking to quit traditional cigarettes. It's essential to distinguish between the availability of flavours for adult consumers and their misuse by underage individuals. Responsible regulation and enforcement focus on preventing the sale of vaping products to minors while ensuring that adults can continue to access a variety of flavour choices to support their efforts to quit smoking.

The ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) says… “While we are alive to the potential appeal of vibrantly coloured and flavoured vaping products, we have not seen evidence that firms are targeting young people through advertising.

The wider issues here appear to be around point of sale (children being illegally sold these products) and their general promotion through non-advertising (organic) posts on social media.”

Recent news has highlighted instances of individuals below the legal vaping age (those under 18) using disposable vapes. It's important to clarify that this problem is not due to vapes being specifically targeted at young people. Instead, the primary concern lies with shopkeepers who are unlawfully selling these products to minors. There is a clear need for more robust measures to prevent any vapes from reaching the hands of children and to enforce age restrictions effectively.

Most vapes contain nicotine, which is an addictive substance and can be hard to stop once you’ve started.

We hope we have cleared up a few misconceptions about vaping and the use of e-cigarettes. Vaping nicotine in the form of vape juice is considerably less harmful when compared to smoking, and is one of the most effective tools to help you quit smoking for good. This is backed up by scientific evidence and research.

While vaping is not completely risk free, it poses a small fraction of the risk when compared to combustible cigarettes. We only recommend vaping for adults over the age of 18 who already smoke to help them with the process of quitting smoking.

Always purchase your vape supplies from specialist vape stores and reputable retailers to ensure you are buying genuine and fully TPD (Tobacco Products Directive) compliant products that are covered by UK safety and quality regulations.

Some e-liquids and disposable vapes available in the UK are illegal and do not meet the UK safety regulations. These products should be avoided as some may contain high levels of harmful substances.

If you found this information helpful, we invite you to share this post on social media by utilising the buttons below. By doing so, you can assist others who may have concerns about vaping myths and help them make informed decisions when considering the switch from cigarette smoking to e-cigarette vaping.

If you need any help, advice or guidance on e-liquids, vape kits, disposable vapes, pods, tanks or coils feel free to contact us. We are always happy to help.

Email: highfivape@gmail.com

 

More articles