21:18 GMT +318 January 2020
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    The Campaign group, Action on Smoking and Health, has stated that the number of people vaping in the United Kingdom has reached 3.6 million – almost half the number of smokers. The data indicates most vapers are former smokers with the main reason for using e-cigarettes being to give up tobacco.

    Dr Simon Cotton from the University of Birmingham shares his views on the issue.

    Sputnik: How significant is story and what does it tell us about attitudes to smoking in the UK?

    Dr Simon Cotton: Smoking has been in decline for years.

    I don't know if you can connect it in recent years with a more health conscious attitude, something that may or may not be the case, but vaping has been promoted in the last 10 years or so as a way of giving up conventional tobacco smoking. I think vaping has been around for maybe 20 years.

    There is anecdotal evidence that people in some cases have found helpful way to give up but as it becomes more common we are increasingly hearing there seem to be issues with vaping.

    Sputnik: Recently we’ve heard a lot about the health effects surrounding vaping. Some people believe that there are no health effects associated with vaping whereas others are more skeptical. With vaping on the rise what exactly are the negative health effects associated with vaping? Are they the same as the health effects associated with cigarettes?

    Dr Simon Cotton: The burning of tobacco produces some very unpleasant molecules known as carcinogens and that's where the real health data comes from.

    The great plus side of vaping is that you do not get these carcinogens so from that point of view vaping is much healthier than conventional tobacco smoking.

    Now the downside of vaping you got to look at what is in the e-cigarettes liquids and vaping mixtures; there are three things; there's nicotine that's still present with you whether you smoke or vape.

     

    Third professional vape industry expo in Moscow
    © Sputnik / Vladimir Pesnya
    Third professional vape industry expo in Moscow

    There are flavoring molecules designed to make the vaping liquid more attractive and there's also solvents used to solve the flavorings.

     

    Many things are well known food additives and they're perfectly safe in foods but in e-liquids you're not using them as food additives - you’re heating them up to high temperature to create the vapor.

    A lot of these belong to a class of chemicals called aldehydes and they tend to be irritants towards the respiratory system.

    These solvents are quite safe in foods but again when you heat them up they spit up to give what often toxic molecules so there are health effects with these properties.

    The problem is that people have not done a systematic study of any dangers to health from vaping with it being reported that there are some different chemicals present in certain liquids and certain liquids made abroad that are vaped and contribute to the respiratory problems that are being reported in the US.

     

    © REUTERS / Adnan Abisi
    A man uses a vape device in this illustration pictur

    These reports suggest that there a lot more health problems reported over there to there have been here and this may be due to the different nature of the liquids being used in these vaping devices.

     

    But of course we don't know and because we don't know the possible long term effects of vaping because people not being vaping long enough.

    Sputnik: Where do cigarette companies find themselves with these changes to attitudes? Could we see these big companies lose significant revenue from smokers switching to vaping?

    Dr Simon Cotton: From my understanding is that in some cases some of the tobacco companies have been investing in vaping essentially getting income from people who are making the switch to vaping.

    Obviously they have been losing income from people giving up smoking.

    I don't have figures in front of me but yes, some of the tobacco companies have been investing in vaping and so they've been getting income from it.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    United Kingdom, smoking, danger, impact, Health, vaping
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