Stoptober: Support for e-cigarettes is back
2017 has seen the return of the backing of e-cigarettes when it comes to helping you quit smoking. According to research of top health professionals and scientists, the risks posed to health from e-cigarettes is infinitely lower that those caused by cigarettes. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) doesn’t actually list e-cigarettes as a recommendation for a safe way to quit smoking, however, it does say that some patients have found the e-cig a helpful tool in their journey to quitting smoking.
What’s in an e-cigarette?
E-cigarettes work by releasing a small shot of nicotine using a heated coil, an atomiser, a battery and a vaporising chamber. The liquid to create the steam/smoke is usually propylene glycol (the same used in fog machines at parties) and this is an FDA approved substance that is often flavoured for a more pleasant experience.
Are they safe?
It’s an argument that is frequently debated in the news, are e-cigarettes actually safe? The World Health Organization (WHO) aren’t convinced about the long term effects of inhaling liquid nicotine. Equally, where Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products such as patches and chewing gum have been tested for their safety, e-cigarettes have not. This doesn’t mean they’re unsafe, it just means that no-one is really sure.
Better than a cigarette?
This is a no-brainer really, inhaling liquid nicotine is definitely an improvement on inhaling the hundreds of harmful chemicals from a cigarette, including the dreaded tobacco. But, it’s still very addictive and with the addition of flavourings including apple, vanilla, coffee and bubble-gum, the e-cigarette is a temptation to even non-smokers, and that’s the worry. There are also hardly any manufacturing regulations meaning no one really knows what’s in the e-cigarettes and your lungs could be worse off than you’d like to think.
Nicotine Vs Tobacco
Tobacco is bad news, it’s related to that wicked auntie commonly referred to as deadly nightshade, although so do potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants, so we can’t dwell on that too much. The green leafy plant contains a big blast of nicotine, which is why it’s so addictive plus around 4000 other chemicals, most of which are toxic. However, nicotine standing alone isn’t such a bad guy, despite being extremely addictive and somewhat damaging to the heart.
Nicotine is absorbed into your bloodstream upon inhalation/patches/gum within around 10 seconds. It’s then shipped off to your brain where it stimulates the adrenal glands to produce…adrenalin. The heart likes this sensation so gets a bit excited, blood vessels constrict and dopamine is released. That’s a happy sensation in just 10 seconds, and nicotine will stay in your body for around two hours.
Despite the instant relief that you receive from nicotine, it’s a bit of a paradox because while it may be relaxing your mind, it’s firing up your nervous system and putting pressure on your heart; it’s a stimulant. Nicotine is also believed to cause insulin resistance and affect the mechanisms behind thyroid hormones, pituitary hormones, sex hormones and adrenal hormones, it’s not good news for your body long term.
What’s the alternative?
The best doctor for most problems is your right leg and your left leg, it’s time to get exercising. If you’re fit and able to, get yourself into a routine of going for a walk, steady jog or if you can manage it, a good run. Exercise releases the same happy hormones you get from smoking, plus it helps you lose weight, shine from within and keep healthy all round. The less you smoke and the more you move, will save your life, and you’ll be motivated by how much easier you find it each time. If you’re used to stepping out of work for a smoke at lunchtime, go for a walk. If you find yourself craving those morning cigarettes before your coffee, jump on a bike. Finally, if you want a cigarette before bedtime, head outside and stretch your legs in the fresh, tobacco free, crisp autumnal air.
If you’re adverse to exercise, you can still be physical getting involved in gardening at your local allotments, joining a fun class at the gym or even offering to walk people’s dogs.
For help and guidance on quitting smoking and keeping yourself in good health make sure you take advantage of our free 24/7 Health & Wellbeing support service by taking out a private health insurance policy with us today.
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