Switching to vaping can be a safe first step on the way to giving up smoking, says one vascular physician – provided giving up tobacco does not succeed by other means.
“The e-cigarette route involves an immediate massive risk reduction,” says Professor Martin Storck of the German Society for Vascular Surgery and Vascular Medicine, arguing that the goal should be to stop smoking, even if it means switching to another addiction.
“Smoking is the most important risk factor for the development and progression of atherosclerosis,” says Storck, “with the consequences of stroke, heart attack or amputation – especially in diabetics.”
And yet while they are less harmful than cigarettes, they’re far from harmless, and e-cigarettes are also addictive substances. What’s more, the vapour you inhale also contains substances that are harmful to your health, and little is known about the long-term consequences.
For those considering switching to vaping, vascular physician Storck points to reviews by the Cochrane organisation, which campaigns for evidence-based health care and evaluates available literature.
These studies have shown that the vapour from e-cigarettes and tobacco heaters contains significantly fewer harmful substances than cigarette smoke. “The order of magnitude is 90 to 95 per cent less.”
Therefore, a 100 per cent switch to e-cigarettes would be an option for smokers who otherwise would not be able to quit smoking, Storck says.
“Of course, complete quitting smoking remains the primary goal,” Storck clarifies, and e-cigarettes are only the lesser of two evils.
The problem: “Many smokers don’t even want to quit at first. After decades of smoking in some cases, it is difficult to give up smoking completely overnight – for example after a heart attack or pneumonia.”
In the view of the physician and his professional association, switching to e-cigarettes can at least reduce certain health risks.