Is vaping less harmful than smoking? Think again

UAE doctors warn of lung injury, poor brain development and other major side effects

Vaping is the new smoking. Worse, vape users think it’s less harmful than smoking. It’s clean nicotine, they say. That’s not exactly true, but that’s the general feeling among vapers in the UAE, according to doctors. This has resulted in the proliferation of smokers.

Vaping a threat to teenagers’ health

“Some, mainly teenagers, tend to use it for an experience, searching for fun, searching for new flavours, to be social with people who are vaping,” Dr Samah Ahmed, a consultant pulmonologist at Burjeel Medical Centre, Al Shahama, Abu Dhabi, says.

Dr Samah Ahmed concurs. “It can also result in cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks. And respiratory illnesses like asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive airway disease, interstitial lung disease, and cancers of the lung, stomach, pancreas, cervix and other sites. Vaping among pregnant women can also result in miscarriage, low birth weight of newborns and infant death,” she says.

How to quit vaping

Quitting vaping is similar to quitting smoking. It’s a process that will take time. There are no shortcuts. Here are some suggestions from two doctors that could help kick the habit.

Dr Samah Ahmed’s advice:

  1. Find the triggers of vaping and make plans to overcome them.
  2. Find motivation to quit. Some of them can be health concerns, risk factors and the need to be free from addiction.
  3. Timing. Set a date to quit vaping.
  4. The plan to beat vaping should include distraction and physical activities like aerobic exercises.
  5. There will be withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
  6. Seek support from society, programmes for smoking and doctors. The five ‘A’s in medical support are:
  • Ask. We ask about your health status and health education
  • Advice: To quit smoking.
  • Assess: Health status, readiness to quit vaping, and vaping behaviour
  • Assistance: Use nicotine replacement therapy or non-nicotine replacement therapy
  • Arrange follow-up visits to the doctor: To get help in avoiding craving and withdrawal symptoms. Relaxation techniques to help avoid stress include yoga, meditation, breathing, and physical exercise.

Inhaling any tobacco product can’t be a good thing, doctors say. Vaping may eliminate the dangerous carbon monoxide of smoking, but more dangers lurk in the vaping juice.

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