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According to an analysis of several computer simulations ran by Kenneth Warner and David Mendez, researchers at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, it is predicted that vaping will be responsible for adding more than 3.3 million years of life to humanity over the course of the next 50 years. More specifically, vaping would add more than 3.5 million years of life by assisting smokers in quitting thus living longer lives. That number is offset by about 260,000 life-years that will be lost as a result of vaping leading young people to smoking.
While the second figure may be sobering, it can’t be ignored that “the benefits outweigh the risks” as Warner stated.
Maximizing the Good, Minimizing the Bad
Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals including many carcinogens and tar known to cause lung cancer and play a dramatic role in decreasing the lifespan of those who smoke. While the long term effects of inhaling vapor through an e-cigarette aren’t yet fully understood since the trend is still rather new, researchers are quite confident in saying that they’re much safer (95% safer to be exact) than cigarette smoking as the e-liquids that are being vaporized consist of only a few ingredients: propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin which account for 95% of the content of e-liquid, flavorings, and nicotine if it is not a nicotine-free e-liquid.
The only major criticism of vaping is not that it is inherently dangerous, but that it can act as a gateway for getting teens hooked on nicotine and eventually, on cigarettes. So far, however, the evidence is in favor of vaping. A study in the UK found that fears that e-cigarette experimentation would lead to huge increases in smoking is unfounded and that the majority of those who vape were already smokers to begin with and that never-smokers who pick up vaping, aren’t starting to smoke.
Still, there will be some teens who vape and then turn to cigarettes. Minimizing that aspect of vaping and emphasizing e-cigarettes as a method for quitting smoking has to be the goal.
Education: Our Most Powerful Weapon
Returning to the study by Warner and Mendez, they reiterate that in order to see the continued downtrend in smoking, especially among teenagers, the public health community must continue to educate people about the dangers of cigarette smoking. While measures should be in place to limit vaping among teens, it cannot be demonized the way that cigarette smoking is if it is to become a safer alternative that will save millions of life-years in the coming decades.