The healthier way to feed that nicotine craving
Nicotine is an addictive substance – no matter whether you’re a social smoker, a pack-a-day kind of person or a vaper, chances are you don’t like to go without for too long.
Decades of studies tell us that regular smoking is a major cause of health problems, including cancer and heart disease. So, what’s the safest way to get that nicotine fix?
Non-smokers will start pulling their faces right about now, but research does suggest that switching from cigarette smoking to e-cigarettes or vaping might have long-term health benefits.
Nicotine is addictive
Although nicotine is considered a ‘legal’ drug, it’s still addictive. Any smoker who has gone cold turkey can tell you all about the intense cravings after quitting. Nicotine use affects every part of your body, including your blood vessels, heart, metabolism, brain and hormones – your entire body will literally cry out for a smoke. You will become irritable and, worse, you might try to still the craving by stuffing your mouth … meaning you’ll soon be visiting your nearest clothing store to upsize.
Tobacco products like hookahs, edibles and even smokeless tobacco are not blameless either, and controlling your consumption of these could only do you good. Keep in mind that although vaping products do not contain any tobacco, they are also considered to be “tobacco products”, as they contain nicotine.
What about hand-rolled cigarettes?
Are hand-rolled cigarettes safer? The short answer is, no – not at all. On the contrary: studies even suggest that hand-rolled cigarettes could pose a higher risk of contracting cancer of the throat and mouth compared to machine-made ones.
Not even so-called “all natural” cigarettes, marketed as having no additives or chemicals, are altogether safe. No form of tobacco, no matter how natural, can claim not to give off any type of chemical when lit. Toxins, including tar and carbon monoxide, are released when tobacco burns, and this poses a health risk.
How to cut down or quit smoking
If you are serious about quitting or even just cutting down on smoking, vaping will allow you to gradually reduce your nicotine percentage.
You could also consider nicotine replacement therapy – ask your doctor about the options. They include:
- Over-the-counter nicotine patches, gum and inhalers
- Prescription nicotine as a nasal spray
- Medications such as bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline tartrate (marketed as Champix in South Africa). These are non-nicotine medications that are only available on prescription.
The over-the-counter products can help with cravings in the short term and are helpful in overcoming those initial, intense cravings. They can also be used in conjunction with the other therapies.
So is vaping healthier?
So are vaping products a healthier alternative? Studies seem to suggest that they are.
The long-term effects are still being analysed, but early studies suggest that e-smoking is a far safer way of consuming nicotine. E-cigarettes and vapes do not contain actual tobacco or carbon monoxide and tar, the scary and harmful ingredients in regular cigarettes. Instead, they contain e-liquid, which is made up of four basic ingredients: nicotine (of course), water, flavourings and propylene glycol or a vegetable glycerine base (or a mixture of the two).
You can choose the amount of nicotine in your e-liquid, which can range from as low as zero to 36 milligrams. Anything over this limit is considered dangerous.
Since their introduction onto the market in the mid-2000s, e-cigarettes and vaping products have proven to pose fewer health risks than tobacco products, and they also have the benefit of helping smokers either smoke less or quit altogether.
Oh, and who prefers smelling of stale tobacco smoke rather than an exotic fruit …?
Control your nicotine intake with vaping
One of the biggest advantages of switching to vaping is the ability to control the amount of nicotine you consume. Vaping liquids come in a variety of flavours and nicotine levels, allowing you to choose not only your favourite taste but also your preferred percentage of nicotine.
This is a great way to scale down on your nicotine use – being able to fine-tune the amount of nicotine can help you curb those cravings to just this side of uncomfortable, in a highly controlled manner.
Takeaway: Vaping is a better alternative than tobacco smoking
Any form of nicotine is addictive, but if you’re chasing a healthier lifestyle, vaping beats tobacco smoking hands down. And you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to flavours …