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smoking will kill you

March 15th

National No Smoking Day 2019: How to stop smoking according to a doctor

Dr Fiona Sim answers your questions on how to kick the habit for good

More and more Brits are choosing to ditch cigarettes, with smoking rates falling by 15.1% since 2016.

To continue to pave the way for a smoke-free generation, health campaigns like National No Smoking Day are encouraging people to quit the habit for good.

National No Smoking Day, which falls on March 13, is encouraging smokers to use the hashtag #TellUsYourWay to share how they plan to quit.

From e-cigarettes to nicotine patches, there are plenty of ways to help you quit smoking. But as any smoker who’s quit or tried to quit before, smoking can be a difficult habit to kick. 

So what are the facts about smoking and how can you quit successfully?

Here's all of your questions about stopping smoking answered by Dr Fiona Sim, a former GP and Special Advisor to the Royal Society of Public Health.

Is 'social smoking' as bad as smoking every day?

"The health risks from smoking are related to the amount you smoke, so you are less likely to get ill as a result of an occasional cigarette compared with someone who is a regular smoker.

"But if you are a 'social smoker' you are running the risk of smoking more and becoming addicted to nicotine just like regular smokers.

"So altogether, a better idea is to not smoke at all rather than believing wrongly, that you are safe if you are a 'social smoker.'"

How do I stop smoking? Where do I start?

"Choose a date to stop carefully, when you are ready to make a commitment to quitting and feel able to do it.

"Tell people around you that you're quitting and if possible, buddy up with someone and quit together.

"It's also a good idea to get professional advice from your local pharmacist or GP.

"Don't worry if you don't succeed at first - it can take several attempts to quit smoking but the health benefits of becoming a non-smoker mean it is worth stopping however long it takes and at any age.

"If you're pregnant, there are special services to help you quit smoking, not just for your own benefit but for your baby's, who will otherwise be at increased risk of miscarriage, stillbirth or low birth weight as a result of smoking.

"Finally, set yourself a reward for quitting - you'll be able to afford a great prize with the money you'll save by becoming a non-smoker!"

What treatments can help me quit?

"There are several types of treatment available, including nicotine replacement in the form of patches, gum, inhaler, nasal spray, microtablets or lozenges.

"Prescription pills such as Zyban or Champix and e-cigarettes are also good stop-smoking treatments, and e-cigarettes if other treatments haven't worked for you.

"Try visiting a stop smoking clinic or a pharmacy with a trained assistant so they can help you find the right combination of products most likely to help you."

Can hypnosis stop me craving cigarettes?

"Hypnosis (or hypnotherapy) is a popular treatment for quitting smoking, although the underlying scientific evidence to support it is slim.

"It's not licensed for NHS use for this purpose, although lots of smokers try it and succeed in quitting."

Are e-cigarettes bad for you? Can they help me quit?

"E-cigarettes are believed by most experts to be a lot safer than smoking tobacco products. Most contain nicotine and so inhaling from an e-cigarette will replace the effect of nicotine in cigarettes, which accounts for their addictiveness.

"So e-cigarettes can help you quit conventional cigarettes and can be especially useful in the early stages of quitting.

"However, because the long-term health effects of vaping are not yet known, the prolonged use of e-cigarettes is not recommended. 

"E-cigarettes are not currently recommended for use in pregnancy so it's usually advised you try other treatments."

Is going cold turkey the best way to stop smoking?

"Going cold turkey can work but someone trying to quit may find the cravings too much.

"If you do decide to go cold turkey, nicotine will be out of your body in the first week, after which you may well have cravings for a few weeks, and longer for some people.

"Each craving lasts for a few minutes and you'll need to be prepared to cope with them.

"To succeed, you'll need to always say 'no' to these cravings to avoid relapse. The NHS calls this the 'not a single drag' rule."

What happens to your body when you stop smoking?

"As soon as you stop smoking, your body starts to crave nicotine, which is why nicotine replacement products can be helpful.

"It won't be long before the good effects start to kick in, though. You'll enjoy food more because your sense of taste will be improved, your clothes won't smell of stale smoke, that tell-tale cough will disappear and you'll be saving yourself money.

"Importantly, your risk of things like heart and circulatory diseases, lung cancer and several other cancers and chronic chest disease (COPD) will start to reduce as soon as you stop smoking.

"And if some damage has already been done, quitting at any age help stop things getting worse.

"Because smoking affects appetite, some people put on weight after quitting, so include a healthy eating and exercise plan within your quit smoking plan."

Can smoking affect your mental health, sex drive and sleep?

"Smoking increases anxiety and stress, despite its image as something to relieve stress. Smokers are also more likely to suffer from depression.

"Stopping smoking can therefore improve your mental health and overall wellbeing.

"Smoking can also affect your circulation and with it, the blood supply to a man's penis. So if a man suffers from erectile dysfunction, it can be as a result of smoking and may be cured by quitting.

"Smoking is also known to contribute to infertility, so it is worth both partners quitting if you are trying to conceive."

March 9th 

Vaping linked to greater risk of heart attack, study suggests 

Vapers are significantly more likely to have a heart attack, develop coronary artery disease and suffer depression compared with those who don’t use them, a new study suggests.

Researchers from the University of Kansas found e-cigarette userswere 34 percent more likely to have a heart attack and 25 percent more likely to have coronary artery disease 

They were also 55 percent more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.

The associations held true even when controlling for other known cardiovascular risk factors, such as age, sex, body mass index, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking. 

Although the researchers said they were also unable to determine whether the damage had occurred prior to using e-cigarettes, or was caused by vaping, they said the study should provide a ‘wake up call’ for people who consider the practice to be safe.

“Until now, little has been known about cardiovascular events relative to e-cigarette use,” said Dr Mohinder Vindhyal, assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita and the study’s lead author.

“These data are a real wake-up call and should prompt more action and awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

“When the risk of heart attack increases by as much as 34 percent among e-cigarettes users compared to nonsmokers, I wouldn’t want any of my patients nor my family members to vape.”

Scientists and health officials are divided over whether e-cigarettes are safe. In 2015 Public Health England urged smokers to switch to vaping saying it carried just five per cent of the risk of tobacco cigarettes. 

PHE has stuck to its support despite mounting evidence about the dangers, and warnings from the World Health Organisation and health authorities in other countries, such as the US.

Last week, the head of Britain’s biggest addiction clinic warned that children as young as 14 are becoming addicted to e-cigarettes, and said there had been steep rise in the number of young people seeking help to quit vaping.

Top scientists have also warned that PHE was ‘walking around with blinders on’ when it comes to the safety of vaping.

The new study, used data from a total of 96,467 respondents from the National Health Interview Survey, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of Americans, from 2014, 2016 and 2017. 

Researchers also compared the data for reported tobacco smokers and nonsmokers. 

Traditional tobacco cigarette smokers had strikingly higher odds of having a heart attack, coronary artery disease and stroke compared with nonsmokers—a 165, 94 and 78 per cent increase, respectively. 

They were also significantly more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, circulatory problems, and depression or anxiety.

“Cigarette smoking carries a much higher probability of heart attack and stroke than e-cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean that vaping is safe,” added Dr Vindhyal said, adding that some e-cigarettes release very toxic compounds. 

“When we dug deeper, we found that regardless of how frequently someone uses e-cigarettes, daily or just on some days, they are still more likely to have a heart attack or coronary artery disease.”

The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology. 



A man died after an e-cigarette exploded in his face, and his isn't the first death from these devices

·       On January 27, William Eric Brown's e-cigarette exploded in his face in the parking lot of a local vape shop in Fort Worth, Texas, Time reported. He died two days later. ·       In records obtained by INSIDER, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner lists Brown's death as "cerebral infarction and herniation" that happened when parts of the exploded e-cigarette pierced his carotid artery. ·       Brown isn't the first person to die from an e-cigarette explosion. In early May 2018, a 35-year-old man died from a "projectile wound to the head"after his e-cigarette exploded, the New York Times reported. ·       On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that defective e-cigarette batteries have caused fires and explosions in the past.

man died two days after his e-cigarette exploded in his face, Time recently reported. William Eric Brown of Fort Worth, Texas was using his e-cigarette in the parking lot of a local vape shop on January 27 when the store's manager saw him having issues in the parking lot and called an ambulance.

After Brown was taken to the hospital, he was put into a medically induced coma and died two days later. In records obtained by INSIDER, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner lists Brown's death as "cerebral infarction and herniation" that resulted from parts of the exploded e-cigarette piercing his carotid artery.

In a CBS 11 interview, Brown's family said doctors did not operate on Brown to remove the e-cigarette fragments from his throat after he was put in a coma.

"That three-piece thing went into his throat and stayed there, and that's what [doctors] should have taken out as soon as they got to the hospital, and they decided to wait until Monday or Tuesday," Brown's grandmother Alice Brown told CBS 11.

"JPS Health Network expresses its sincere condolences to the patient's family," the hospital said in a statement to INSIDER. "We will continue to communicate with family members, but because of health privacy laws we cannot comment on this case. We hold ourselves to the highest standards in providing high-quality healthcare and will take family concerns seriously as we review all that transpired."

Some e-cigarettes have caused fires and explosions in the past due to defective batteries

On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that defective e-cigarette batteries have caused fires and explosions in the past, most of which occurred when the e-cigarette batteries were being charged.

Read more: Vaping every day could double your risk of a heart attack, new research suggests

Between 2009 and 2019, the United States Fire Administration reported 195 different e-cigarette explosion or fire incidents. In 68% of the incidents, acute injuries like smoke inhalation, burns, and lacerations were reported.

The first reported death from an e-cigarette explosion happened in May 2018

Brown isn't the first person to die from an e-cigarette explosion. In May 2018, a man in St. Petersburg, Florida died after his e-cigarette exploded, causing a "projectile wound to the head" and burns on 80% of his body, The New York Times reported. According to a report from the United States Fire Administration, this was the first fatality from an e-cigarette explosion.

To address this safety issue, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asks people to report any e-cigarette explosions or other health and safety issues associated with the devices through an online form. In addition, the FDA offers e-cigarette safety tips to users, like only using the charger the device came with, replacing damaged or wet batteries, and abstaining from charging an e-cigarette overnight.

This post has been updated to include comments from JPS Health Network.

Visit INSIDER's homepage for more.


Jan 31st

E-Cigarettes Linked to Heart Attacks, Strokes

Electronic cigarettes are often thought of as "healthier" than conventional cigarettes, but the jury's still out on their potential health risks. Now, a new study has found a link between e-cigarette use and an increased risk of stroke and heart attacks.

The study analyzed information from about 400,000 Americans who took part in a national health survey in 2016. Of these, about 66,800 reported that they regularly used e-cigarettes.

Compared with non-e-cigarette users, regular users had about a 70 percent higher risk of stroke, a 60 percent higher risk of heart attack or angina (chest pain) and a 40 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease.

About 79 percent of e-cigarette users also reported using conventional cigarettes, compared with just 37 percent of non-e-cigarette users. [4 Myths About E-Cigarettes]

But the findings linking e-cigarettes with an increased risk of stroke, heart attack and coronary heart disease held even after the researchers took into account whether people were also conventional cigarette smokers, said study lead author Dr. Paul Ndunda, an assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.

What's more, when the researchers analyzed a subset of participants who reported smoking fewer than 100 conventional cigarettes in their lives (meaning they were not regular users of cigarettes), they found that e-cigarette users were still 29 percent more likely to report having a stroke, 25 percent more likely to report having a heart attack and 18 percent more likely to report having coronary heart disease, Ndunda told Live Science.

The findings will be presented next week at American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019 in Honolulu, but has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The new finding is "quite concerning," said Dr. Larry Goldstein, co-director of the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute at the University of Kentucky, who was not involved with the study. "This is the first real data that we're seeing associating e-cigarette use with hard cardiovascular events" like heart attacks and strokes, Goldstein said in a video interview with the American Stroke Association, which is a division of the American Heart Association (AHA). However, Goldstein noted that the study had limitations. For example, the researchers weren't able to take into account some factors that are known to increase people's risk of stroke and heart disease, such as high blood pressure, alcohol use and an unhealthy diet.

In addition, because the study only examined people's responses at one point in time, it is not able to tease out cause and effect — that is, it cannot prove that e-cigarette use was the cause of people's cardiovascular problems, or whether people who use e-cigarettes have other characteristics that increased their risk.

Still, Goldstein said that these early findings need to be taken seriously, especially given the relatively large percentage of young people who use e-cigarettes. In 2016, about 11 percent of U.S. high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days.

Unlike conventional cigarettes, which heat and burn tobacco, e-cigarettes heat up and vaporize a liquid, which usually contains nicotine and other flavorings.

The AHA cautions against the use of e-cigarettes, saying that they may pose health risks that scientists do not yet fully understand. And since e-cigarettes usually contain nicotine, they may get people addicted to the substance, according to the AHA.

Some previous studies have also suggested that the flavorings in e-cigarettes themselves may be harmful. A study published last year in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology found that e-cigarette chemical flavorings had harmful effects on blood vessel cells in a lab dish.


Jan 4th

Smoking shisha linked to diabetes and obesity, study finds

Smoking shisha "significantly increases" the risk of users developing diabetes and obesity, a major study has revealed for the first time.

Research carried out by the Brighton and Sussex Medical School found that smokers were more likely to gain weight and develop type 2 diabetes in comparison to non-smokers after inhaling 'hookah' fumes.

In the largest study to ever explore the adverse effects of hookah smoking, the participants baseline characteristics were measured against their biochemical results which were observed through blood tests.

Out of the 9840 participants involved, 6742 were non-smokers, 976 were ex-smokers, 864 were cigarette smokers, 1067 were hookah smokers and 41 were both cigarette and hookah smokers.

Obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and dyslipidemia were all positively associated with hookah smoking while negatively associated with cigarette smoking.

Video: Teens who use e-cigarettes more likely to become heavy smokers (Buzz60)

The research has cast doubt on the widespread belief that smoking hookah is less toxic because it involves an apparatus designed to purify tobacco smoke by passing it through water.

Professor Gordon Ferns, Head of the Department of Medical Education Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said: "A single session of hookah smoking may be equivalent to more than a packet of cigarettes, and the inhaled toxic compounds may be even greater.

"It is unclear why hookah smoking is associated with obesity and diabetes. It is possible that the toxins in the smoke stimulate an inflammatory response that causes tissues to become resistant to the effects of the hormone insulin, that regulates glucose in the blood. However, it is also possible that hookah smoking is associated with other social behaviours that lead to weight gain."

As cigarette sales have steadily been falling for decades, people are increasingly turning to 'healthier' alternatives like e-cigarettes, vaping and hookah smoking.

Many people are attracted by the taste of shisha- the sweet sticky tobacco used with hookah- and can spend hours casually using the pipe when out with friends.

However, while a cigarette is finished in an average of 20 puffs, shisha smokers can be exposed to greater volumes of tar heavy metals and other carcinogenic chemicals over a longer period of time.

The practice now accounts for around half of all the smoking that teenagers do, according to a British Medical Journal study published earlier this year.

Experts have warned that the long term health effects of hookah smoking could in fact be greater than cigarettes,so more needs to be done to reduce their appeal to younger generations.

Professor Ferns added: "There is now good evidence that hookah smoking is not harmless. The risks of hookah smoking with respect to some types of cancer is well established, and the evidence for an association with cardiovascular disease is growing.

"From a health policy perspective, it would be important for the public to recognise the risks of hookah smoking. The use of flavoured tobaccos may be particularly attractive to young people. Hookah smoking should be treated no differently from cigarette smoking."

Dec 17th 2018

Eight tips for quitting smoking as a mum-to-be

Smoking during pregnancy is the biggest cause of pregnancy problems and loss but it's one that you have the power to change. We speak to Jane Scattergood, Midwifery Adviser at Public Health England and other experts, about how to quit smoking for the benefit of both mother and baby.

Although rates are falling, almost 11 per cent of mothers in England are known smokers at the time of giving birth, which translates to more than 70,000 infants born to smoking mothers each year.

Smoking as a mum-to-be is 'harmful to both the mother and her unborn child,' says Scattergood. Giving up can be hard to do, so we ask experts and real-life ex-smoker mums for their advice on how to stop smoking.

. Quitting makes you more likely to conceive

According to charity Tommy’s, women who smoke are twice as likely to be infertile as non-smokers, because smoking adversely affects the womb lining.

But stopping smoking improves the lining of the womb, increasing your chance of getting pregnant. ‘Smoking can impact on fertility, so quitting may help with becoming pregnant,’ explains stop smoking expert, Louise Ross.

2. Quit, don’t cut down

‘Every cigarette you smoke releases more than 4,000 chemicals into your bloodstream via your lungs. That blood flows to the placenta and umbilical cord, right into your baby's body, causing the baby to struggle for oxygen,’ says Ross.

‘It can also impact on the baby’s heart as one of the chemicals found in cigarettes is carbon monoxide, which restricts the supply of oxygen essential for a baby's healthy growth and development. It will cause a baby's tiny heart to pump even harder, which is very distressing for baby,' she adds.

'Crucially, the exposure to these poisons can last up to 15 minutes with each and every cigarette smoked, so cutting down on your smoking rather than quitting completely will still have a harmful effect on your baby.’

3. Take advantage of your raised metabolism

‘Most pregnant women can use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) which is safer than smoking because it doesn’t contain poisons like tar or carbon monoxide, but it’s important to talk to your doctor or midwife before beginning,’ says Ross.

It's worth noting that, when prescribed, NRT products such as gum, inhalators, sprays, lozenges and patches are free during pregnancy.

‘Patches work particularly well for pregnant women because their metabolism is higher due to their extra blood volume. In pregnancy, the body metabolises nicotine far quicker than normal so the nicotine in the skin patches can be effective in as little as 48 hours,’ says Rachael Garrett, specialist midwife for smoking cessation at Buckland Hospital, Dover and member of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

4. Have a back-up plan

‘While NRT patches help avoid the nicotine highs and lows associated with cigarettes, there will inevitably be moments of stress in a pregnant woman’s day when a patch alone may not be enough,’ reveals Garrett.

'So I always prescribe lozenges, gum, spray or an inhalator which can be used to answer their nicotine demand at a crucial time,' she adds.

5. Support is vital

‘You’re four times more likely to quit if you receive one-to-one support,’ says Garrett, who runs smoking cessation clinics specifically for mums-to-be.

Ross agrees: ‘No matter what level of smoking dependency people have, some face-to-face support will increase their chances of quitting successfully.’

She points out that while smoking in pregnancy specialist midwives are available in some areas, local stop smoking services, pharmacies and GPs are also great places for mums-to-be to receive help to give up.

6. It’s never too late to quit

Worried that you've run out of time? ‘Stopping smoking early in pregnancy can almost entirely prevent damage to the baby,’ says Scattergood.

‘Research shows that if you can stop smoking by 13 weeks, there won’t be any growth implications for your baby, although obviously the earlier you give up, the better,’ continues Garrett.

But even if you’ve gone almost the entire way through your pregnancy without giving up, ‘quitting 48 hours before birth is beneficial, since nicotine and carbon monoxide cause vasoconstriction that can limit blood supply to the placenta and birth canal, increasing the chances of stillbirth and impede healing of wounds.’

7. Use visualisation

‘I really struggled to give up smoking at the start of my pregnancy, even though it made my morning sickness worse,’ says Louise Jodka, who is currently in her first pregnancy.

'Then a midwife explained to me that every time I light up, I’m effectively starving my baby of oxygen,' she adds. 'She taught me to visualise my baby’s cord being clamped whenever I crave a cigarette, to build an association between smoking and harming my baby. It’s a powerful image and one that’s proved effective as I’ve not had a cigarette in nearly two weeks.'

8. Know the stats

Smoking during pregnancy causes up to 2,200 premature births, 5,000 miscarriages and 300 perinatal deaths every year in the UK.

‘It also increases the risk of complications in pregnancy and the child developing a number of conditions later on in life, such as premature birth, low birth weight, respiratory conditions, problems of the ear, nose and throat, diabetes and obesity,’ explains Scattergood.

Smoking while you are pregnant also increases the risk of Sudden Infant Death (or cot death) by at least 30 per cent. For mum-of-three Sarah Walford, knowing this was enough to make her give up smoking for good.

‘After I saw the blue line on the pregnancy test, I never smoked again,' says Walford. 'The thought that I may be causing damage to my baby was powerful enough to make me stop straight away and motivated me to stay smoke-free, even when my cravings were strong.’

Dec 1st 2018

Is vaping really safer than smoking

Vaping is a contentious issue. It doesn’t help that international media coverage and various health studies seem to contradict each other – while some reports state that it’s a great deal safer than smoking, others suggest that e-cigarettes are packed full of dangerous chemicals and should be avoided at all costs.

To get to the bottom of the issue Dr Nicholas Hopkinson, honorary respiratory consultant and clinical lead for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at Royal Brompton Hospital, gives his verdict on e-cigarettes and smoking cessation:

E-cigarettes are designed for people who are addicted to nicotine through smoking to get their nicotine fix minus the harmful effects of cigarettes. Traditional cigarettes come with a number of major health concerns, including increasing your risk of cancerheart disease and stroke, while vaping is said to come with significantly less risk.

‘Vaping is much safer than smoking, says Dr Hopkinson. ‘We know that because the toxic chemicals that are present in cigarette smoke are either not present in vape, or are present at a much lower level.’

Vaping is safer than smoking because toxic chemicals present in cigarette smoke are much lower.

A recent cross-sectional study tested the breath, saliva and urine samples of 181 participants, some of whom smoked cigarettes, others who vaped.

The results showed that there were significantly lower cancer-causing chemicals present in those who vaped. ‘People who use e-cigarettes to quit smoking will get a substantial health benefit,’ says Dr Hopkinson.

What are the dangers of e-cigarettes?

While vaping has been proven to work effectively as a tool for smoking cessation, e-cigarettes are not completely harmless. The main issue with vaping and e-cigarettes is that, as a relatively new form of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), health experts don’t yet know enough about the long-term health risks.

We don't know for certain whether vaping will cause some harm in the long term.

‘It's absolutely true that we don't know for certain whether vaping will cause some harm in the long term,’ says Dr Hopkinson. ‘So, it's important for scientists to work that out and work out what aspect of vaping might be particularly harmful. Maybe certain chemicals are worse than others, so it's important they're weeded out.’

‘It's likely that long-term vaping is going to cause some harm, so that's why it's important we don't have non-smokers taking it up,’ adds Dr Hopkinson.

There's also the concern that vaping could act as a gateway drug, and young people who try vaping are more likely to then start smoking tobacco. However, Dr Hopkinson argues that peer effect produces the highest risk of cigarette uptake. ‘The risk of becoming a smoker if you try smoking is extremely high, so you have to think about these things in context.

While we don't yet know the long-term health implications of vaping, studies have shown that e-cigarettes are an effective tool to quit smoking, and not nearly as dangerous as smoking tobacco cigarettes.

However, non-smokers should not take up vaping. The straightforward message is that e-cigarettes are a positive attribute for smokers only.

According to Dr Hopkinson, smokers should be encouraged to use vaping as a form of NRT to help them quit, ‘but you'd then encourage them to try and quit vaping too – though not at the expense of going back to smoking.’

'Ultimately, vaping might be better than smoking,’ says Dr Hopkinson, ‘but it’s not as good as fresh air!’


Nov 5th 2018

I Started Vaping to Quit Smoking, and It Was a Huge Mistake

One man's journey through the promise and peril of e-cigarettes.

n 2015, my now-and-then smoking habit had crept up to two or three cigarettes per day, and a lot more when I was drinking. After one tobacco-laden weekend resulted in a full week of phlegm and coughing, I felt like I had to do something. I was working in Times Square at the time. From the window outside my cubicle, I was face to face with video billboard playing the painfully hip new commercial from the e-cigarette company Juul. Turns out: marketing works. Before I knew it, I’d ordered one for myself and fallen in love at first hit. Everything about the e-cigarette seemed, and felt, better than my old cancer sticks. The smell, the cost, the surprisingly strong amount of nicotine it delivered per hit. At the same social events where I once belched noxious, girlfriend-repelling, shirt-stinking tobacco fumes, I was now puffing crème brûlée-scented fog clouds.

E-cigarettes have been around since 2003 and we still don’t know much about their health effects or safety. But, as we’ve pulled the flavored smoke from our Juuls and similar vaporizers, we’ve blindly assumed one thing: they have to be a better idea than smoking cigarettes.

Cigarettes might be the least controversial enemies of your health. They cause canceremphysemaheart disease, even impotence. While saturated fat and alcohol still have their supporters, nobody is rushing to cigarettes’ defense.

Enter e-cigarettes, which were new, high-tech, and came with no proven health risks. There were no long-term studies yet, but common sense dictated that if you wanted to quit inhaling tobacco through smoking, the least you could do was switch to e-cigarettes.

That was my train of thought, anyway.

I never kidded myself into thinking that this habit was harmless, but less harmful than cigarettes.

When people voiced health concerns, I came to my Juul’s defense. If you’re going to smoke it’s clearly better to go with e-cigarettes. In fact, the U.K.’s Public Health England had published a review concluding vaping was 95 percent less harmful than smoking. A Greek study had found 81 percent of people in a group of over 19,000 had successfully used e-cigs to quit. I’d heard (and inhaled) enough. This was the answer.

It was the wrong one.

Over the next few years, the optimism over e-cigarettes waned as their popularity skyrocketed. Juul’s sales increased over 600 percent each year to become the best selling device on the market while I inhaled an atmosphere’s worth of vanilla vapor into my lungs. I never kidded myself into thinking that this habit was harmless, but my conviction that they were less harmful than cigarettes made the endeavor seem worthwhile, even praiseworthy.

After all, the average cigarette has some 4,000 chemical compounds, including dozens of confirmed carcinogens, while my e-cig cartridges contained just five: distilled water, nicotine, glycerin, propylene glycol, and some flavoring.That’s a flimsy argument: “something with lots of scary chemicals is less dangerous than something with just a few scary chemicals.”

Firstly that propylene glycol, largely responsible for making your breath look like a cloud of mist, is also found in fog machines used in concerts and has been linked to chronic lung problems among stagehands. It’s actually FDA-approved for use in food (believe it or not it’s common in pre-made cake mix) but when heated to vaping temperature it can produce the carcinogen formaldehyde.

In other words, just because something is safe to eat doesn’t mean it’s safe to be inhaled. (Duh.) Vaping also seems to trigger potentially harmful immune responses in the lungs. It's not just tasty air.

“As time passes, the evidence that these are a lot more dangerous than people thought keeps piling up,” says Dr. Stanton Glantz, Director of UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Research, Control & Education. “In one disease they seem worse than cigarettes: they seem to turn on more inflammatory and depressed immune function in lungs than cigarettes. And evidence the effects on the cardiovascular system approach that of a cigarette is also piling up.”

Indeed, the “vapor” may have a lot more than those five ingredients listed above. Somestudies have found it to contain lead, nickel, tin, and silver from the machinery inside the devices along with formaldehyde, manganese, tolulene, and other ingredients linked to cancer, central nervous system problems, and other possible health issues. A 2018 study of e-cig smokers’ urine found at least five of the same carcinogens found in cigarettes.

It had become apparent that there were problems with my vape-saves-the-day habit.

As the National Academies of Sciences put it in an extensive report published this year, “Ultimately, the potential health benefit of e-cigarette use for cigarette smokers will depend on the characteristics of the smoker, the product, and how the device is used.” As it stood, I had the characteristics of someone with a pretty addictive personality and making nicotine easier to consume was not the right move for me.

It’s just too easy. You can vape anywhere. My girlfriend is all too happy to kiss me if I’ve been inhaling vanilla fumes. My clothes don’t reek of tobacco when I duck outside for a hit. But, and this is a big one: you can do it inside. Sure, you’re not supposed to, but a Juul hides easily in the hand and when exhaling slowly, nobody can see or smell the cloud. While I used to have to put on a coat, leave my friends, and go outside to smoke a cigarette, I can now “smoke” inside--it’s like the 90s all over again.

Three years after puffing my first e-cig had led to me vaping all the goddamn time. All night when I’m out with friends and now all day while I’m at work. To be clear, I never even used to smoke during the day when I was using cigarettes. But if a project is particularly stressful (or just slightly vexatious, any excuse will do), my sleek little e-cig is just sitting in my bag at my feet. Maybe just one puff. Maybe one more. Like a never-ending pipe, you don’t know when you’ve had enough, when you’ve had a cigarette’s worth of nicotine. One quick puff to slay your stress can turn into one puff every few minutes, then whenever I get the slightest urge.

A 2018 study of e-cig smokers’ urine found at least five of the same carcinogens found in cigarettes

Isn’t vaping meant to help you quit nicotine? As encouraging as the data was a few years ago, it’s starting to look like that’s not the case. The FDA is yet to approve them as a smoking cessation aid and a recent CDC study found that most adult e-cigarette users — 58.8 percent of them — don't stop smoking cigarettes and instead wind up using both products.

“E-cigarettes and other forms of vaping have been tested as a way for smoking cessation and they don’t do very well, certainly not as well as the standard FDA-approved nicotine replacement products,” says Dr. Norman Edelman, Senior Scientific Advisor for the American Lung Association. “The fact that you tried to get off of cigarettes by vaping is not surprising,” he told me. “That happens to most people who try it. It just turns out it’s not that effective.”

He notes that the most effective methods involve some sort of pharmaceutical, either nicotine replacement patches or pills, combined with a program that helps you deal with the problems of quitting smoking. (The American Lung Association recommends Freedom From Smoking.) Even then the average quit rate is just 25 percent, so even the best methods only have a one in four chance of succeeding.

“Although it is true that some people successfully quit smoking with e-cigarettes, for most smokers who use e-cigs it actually makes it harder to quit,” says Dr. Glantz. “If you look across all the studies, what they show is smokers who use these cigs are about a third less likely to quit smoking than smokers who don’t. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some who use them successfully to quit but they’re a small minority, 10 or 15 percent. For most people they inhibit quitting and they often go back to smoking cigarettes.”

ventually, I was vaping pretty much all day, every day. My lung capacity was absolutely destroyed. I couldn’t do cardio to save my life; walking up stairs sucked the wind out of me. My stamina and day-to-day life was vastly more affected by this vaping habit than when I used to just smoke a few cigarettes on Saturday nights.

That’s why when the last time my Juul broke (as they regularly do), I didn’t get a replacement.

I bought a pack of cigarettes.

Not a great choice, I know. But now that I’ve gotten rid of the endless, all-day vaping, and a nicotine hit makes me stink like a dive bar ashtray, makes my mouth taste like dirt, and makes my friends recoil from my presence, I’ve got reasons to cut back. Since ditching e-cigarettes for cigarettes, I’m back to smoking on weekends only.

Now, I hate cigarettes more than ever. On the rare occasions I partake, instead of filling my nostrils with the taste of a warm crème brûlée, my mouth tastes like a street gutter for an hour. My fingertips reek. And smoking a cigarette from start to finish takes so long. I’m sick of it before I’m half finished. I like the nicotine, but everything else about the experience is viscerally revolting.

E-cigarettes, in all their stylish sneakiness, took over my life. Cigarettes pushed me back to shivering outside the bar where a nicotine habit belongs. I do still plan to quit completely — I do — but not with vaping. I want to carry the stink and taste that won’t let me forget I’m damaging myself when I’m smoking. The way to quit isn’t through a device that made a nicotine hit easier, or fun. I have to learn to hate it.

Oct 19th 2018

Scientists at Scripps Research Institute have successfully tested a potential new smoking-cessation treatment in rodents.

In a study published online in Science Advances, the scientists gave nicotine-dependent rats an engineered enzyme that breaks down nicotine in the bloodstream before it can reach the brain. Treatment quickly reduced the animals’ motivation to take nicotine, reversed their signs of nicotine dependence, and kept them from relapsing when they were given access to nicotine again.

“This is a very exciting approach because it can reduce nicotine dependence without inducing cravings and other severe withdrawal symptoms, and it works in the bloodstream, not the brain, so its side effects should be minimal,” says principal investigator Olivier George, Ph.D., associate professor at Scripps Research.

Nicotine dependence is what keeps tobacco smokers smoking despite all the harm it does to their health. Researchers estimate that about 60 percent of the people who try cigarettes end up as daily smokers-and about 75 percent of daily smokers relapse after quitting.

Reversing nicotine dependence by preventing the nicotine in tobacco smoke from reaching the brain has long been considered a promising strategy. However, prior efforts have not yielded drugs that reduce blood levels of nicotine enough to be effective.

The enzyme tested in this study, NicA2-J1, is a version of a natural enzyme produced by the bacterium Pseudomonas putida. It was modified-to optimize its potency, its staying time in the blood, and other pharmacological properties-by the laboratory of Kim Janda, Ph.D., the Ely R. Callaway, Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Scripps Research. Studies published in the past several years by Janda and colleagues have shown that NicA2-J1 strongly reduces blood levels of nicotine in rodents, and it is effective in a simple rat model of nicotine dependency.

For the new study, the researchers tested the enzyme in more sophisticated animal models, developed in George’s laboratory, which better mimic human smokers’ addiction to nicotine.

For one set of experiments, lab rats spent 21 hours of every day, for 12 days, in a chamber where they could press a lever to give themselves an intravenous infusion of nicotine. In this way they learned to self-administer nicotine, and became dependent on it. After the 12 days they were given access to nicotine only every 48 hours, which led them to experience withdrawal symptoms between access periods, and to escalate their intake-a classic sign of deepening addiction-whenever they regained access.

Animals treated with the highest dose of NicA2-J1 (10 mg/kg) continued to self-administer nicotine when they could, but showed very low blood levels of the molecule compared to controls that did not receive the enzyme. Signs of nicotine withdrawal, such as susceptibility to pain and aggressive behaviors, were correspondingly reduced during the no-access periods, compared to untreated controls.

“It’s as if they were smoking 20 cigarettes but receiving the nicotine dose of only one or two, so that made their withdrawal process much less severe,” says study first author Marsida Kallupi, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate in the George laboratory.

Surprisingly, even the acute effect of NicA2-J1 on the nicotine-taking rats was benign. Typically when an animal is highly nicotine dependent, receiving a drug that suddenly blocks all nicotine activity will trigger withdrawal symptoms right away. “It’s like quitting ‘cold turkey’-the subject will feel horrible,” George says. “However, what’s unique about this enzyme is that it removes enough nicotine to reduce the level of dependence, but leaves enough to keep the animals from going into severe withdrawal.”

One of the other hallmarks of nicotine dependence is the continuation of nicotine-seeking despite serious adverse consequences-consequences that for human tobacco-smokers include short-term impairments of lung function and physical fitness, plus longer-term risks of cancers, heart disease, stroke, and many other ailments. George, Kallupi and colleagues showed that NicA2-J1 could reduce this compulsive motivation for nicotine in the addicted rats. When each lever-press for nicotine also brought a 30 percent chance of receiving an electric shock to the feet, the NicA2-J1-treated rats-unlike untreated controls-quickly reduced their lever presses.

The scientists modeled yet another key aspect of nicotine dependence, the susceptibility to relapse after abstinence: They took the rats off nicotine for 10 days, then gave them an injection of nicotine to re-awaken their desire for the drug, and restored access via the lever-presses. Untreated rats who were primed this way increased their lever presses by a large amount-NicA2-J1 treated rats much less so. The same beneficial effect of NicA2-J1 was seen when the researchers triggered relapse with a stress-inducing drug, mimicking the way that stress causes relapse in humans.

With such promising results in preclinical tests, the Scripps Research team now hopes to take NicA2-J1 into clinical trials in humans. Prior to that, the scientists will do further work to optimize NicA2-J1’s properties as a drug. They also plan to test it in rats against varenicline (Chantix), a compound that blocks nicotine activity in the brain and is currently viewed as the most effective smoking-cessation drug.


Sept 30th 2018

Stoptober 2018 Public Health England Campaign to quit smoking revealed

For those looking to quit smoking, October is Stoptober.

The public health campaign kicked off several years ago and helps assist UK smokers looking to quit with the resources and personal support they need to do just that.

Here’s all you need to know about the Stoptober campaign as well as information about the dangers of cigarette smoking, reasons to quit smoking and how to quit.

What is Stoptober?</h2>

Stoptober is a health awareness campaign by Public Health England that’s part of the broader One You campaign aimed at helping people quit smoking, much like National No Smoking Day.

Launched in 2012, the campaign offers free support and resources for those looking to stop smoking, including through medications, apps, social media groups and personal support from local health services.

Today, the campaign is the largest and most popular event in the United Kingdom aimed at getting masses of people to give up smoking.

When is Stoptober 2018?

Specifically, Stoptober 2018 is held from October 1 to October 28.

The 28-day time frame reportedly comes from research that shows that people who quit smoking for 28 days are five times more likely to quit smoking on a permanent basis.

Stoptober statistics</h2>

Since launching in 2012, Stoptober has led to more than 1.5 million quit attempts in the UK.

In addition, a 2017 report by the University College of London has showed that quitting success rates in the UK are the highest they’ve been in at least a decade, up to 19.8 per cent for the first six months of 2017 and considerably higher than the ten-year average of 15.7 per cent.

The rise in quitting coincides with the growing success of the Stoptober public health campaign in the UK.

Dangers of cigarette smoking</h2>

Smoking cigarettes has repeatedly been proven to be very dangerous to a smokers’ health and to the health of those around them.

According to the British Heart Foundation, smoking can seriously damage arterial linings, increasing the risks of heart attacks and strokes. It can also lead to blood clots, increased blood pressure and other serious heart and lung problems like coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema.

It’s also known as the leading cause of lung cancer and can lead to increased risk of mouth, esophageal, pancreatic and bladder cancers.

Reasons to quit smoking

Experts give a number of reasons for people to quit smoking for the sake of both themselves and for those around them.

First and foremost, quitting smoking can greatly improve personal health, leading to both short-term and long-term health benefits. Within 20 minutes of stopping smoking, heart rates and blood pressure drops while blood circulation and lung function improves and heart attack risks decline as soon as two weeks after quitting.

Within two to five years of quitting smoking, the risk of throat, mouth, esophagus and bladder cancer is cut in half while the risk of lung cancer is halved ten years after quitting.

It’s also a great way to save money, as those who smoke one pack per day could save roughly £250 every month.

Finally, quitting smoking can help protect family members from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke, greatly reducing their risk of developing lung cancer, asthma, meningitis and other health problems.

How to quit smoking

A number of ways to quit smoking exist. Specifically, the British Heart Foundation recommends picking a firm quitting date, making a list of reasons to quit and building a support network to assist in quitting.

It also recommends getting rid of any reminders of smoking ahead of a target quitting date such as lighters and ashtrays, utilizing specialists to assist in quitting and avoiding ‘trigger situations’ that induce stress and trigger the urge to smoke.

In 2017, the Stoptober campaign also backed the use of e-cigarettes to help smokers quit, though some have cautioned that e-cigarettes still pose potential health risks. 


Sept 13th 2018

The FDA is cracking down on the makers and sellers of e-cigarettes, announcing yesterday that manufacturers had 60 days to show they can keep the devices away from minors. They agency also issued warning letters and fines to 1,300 retailers for illegally selling vapes to kids. “We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement. He threatened to take flavored vaping products off the market if companies like Juul can’t prevent minors from using them. The American Medical Association commended the FDA's action, but urged “more stringent policies to help keep all harmful tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, out of the hands of our nation’s youth.”

Aug 20th 2018

E-cigarettes can 'damage your DNA and increase your risk of cancer'

They’re often portrayed as safer alternatives to cigarettes, but a new study has revealed that electronic cigarettes may be more dangerous than thought.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota have revealed that vaping can damage the DNA in your mouth, which in turn, increases your risk of cancer.

Dr Silvia Balbo, who led the study, said: “It's clear that more carcinogens arise from the combustion of tobacco in regular cigarettes than from the vapor of e-cigarettes.

”However, we don't really know the impact of inhaling the combination of compounds produced by this device.

“Just because the threats are different doesn't mean that e-cigarettes are completely safe.”

In the study, five e-cigarette users provided saliva samples before and after a 15-minute vaping session.

The researchers analysed these samples for chemicals that are known to damage DNA, and also assessed DNA damage in the cells in the volunteers’ mouths.

The results revealed that the levels of three DNA-damaging compounds - formaldehyde, acrolein and methylglyoxal - increased in the saliva after vaping.

And compared with people who don't vape, four of the five e-cigarette users showed increased DNA damage related to acrolein exposure.

This type of damage, called a DNA adduct, occurs when toxic chemicals react with DNA.

Worryingly, if the cell does not repair the damage, it could lead to cancer, according to the researchers.

The team now plans to replicate the study on a larger scale, to see how the level of DNA adducts differs between e-cigarette users and regular cigarette users.

Dr Balbo said: “Comparing e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes is really like comparing apples and oranges. The exposures are completely different.

“We still don't know exactly what these e-cigarette devices are doing and what kinds of effects they may have on health, but our findings suggest that a closer look is warranted."

Aug 17th 2018

Reduce e-cigarette restrictions to save lives, say MPs

E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than conventional cigarettes and shouldn't be regulated in the same way, according to a report by MPs.

The government is missing an opportunity to "tackle a major cause of death in the UK" by failing to encourage smokers to switch to the alternative, the MPs warned,

Misconceptions about e-cigarettes include that they are a "gateway" to smoking and that they pose a significant risk through second-hand inhalation, both of which were found to be not true by parliament's science and technology committee.

Almost three million people in the UK use e-cigarettes, roughly 470,000 of whom are using them to help them quit, with tens of thousands doing so successfully each year.

This is being overlooked by the NHS, they said, which spends approximately £2.6bn a year on people who smoke conventional cigarettes.

The MPs are calling for the government to consider risk-based regulation to allow more freedom to advertise e-cigarettes as the relatively less harmful option for nicotine addicts.

The report follows a statement by Public Health England earlier this year in which the health officials called for more tolerance for e-cigarette users and for hospitals to provide patients with vaping lounges.

They also said that the government should provide financial incentives in the form of lower levels of taxation for smokers to swap from cigarettes to less harmful alternatives such as e-cigarettes.

In addition, the government should reconsider how e-cigarettes are used in public places and as a therapy by the NHS.

They also said the government should look again at regulations limiting e-juice refill strengths and tank sizes which were brought in by the EU.

Norman Lamb MP, the committee chair, said: "Smoking remains a national health crisis and the government should be considering innovative ways of reducing the smoking rate.

"E-cigarettes are less harmful than conventional cigarettes, but current policy and regulations do not sufficiently reflect this and businesses, transport providers and public places should stop viewing conventional and e-cigarettes as one and the same.

"There is no public health rationale for doing so," Mr Lamb stated.

"Concerns that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to conventional smoking, including for young non-smokers, have not materialised. If used correctly, e-cigarettes could be a key weapon in the NHS's stop smoking arsenal.

"E-cigarettes are a proven stop smoking tool and, while uncertainties undoubtedly remain about their long-term health impact, failing to explore the use of e-cigarettes could lead to the continued use of conventional cigarettes - which currently kill around 79,000 people in England every year.

"Medically licensed e-cigarettes would make it easier for doctors to discuss and recommend them as a stop smoking tool to aid those quitting smoking. The approval systems for prescribing these products must be urgently reviewed.

"The percentage of people smoking among those with mental health conditions remains stubbornly high, while it is declining in the general population. People with mental health conditions are almost 2.5 times more likely to smoke compared to the general population.

"It is therefore extraordinary that one-third of mental health trusts ban the use of e-cigarettes completely, while three-quarters of NHS trusts are mistakenly concerned about 'second-hand' e-cigarette vapour. This is unacceptable.

"Those with mental ill health are being badly let down and NHS England appear to have failed to give this any priority. NHS England's default policy should be that e-cigarettes should be permitted in mental health units."

Aug 15th 2018

Urgent deadly warning issued to all e-cigarette users

VAPING is more harmful than previously thought, a study suggests.

Some of the effects are similar to those seen in smokers and people with chronic lung disease.

Researchers found e-cigs boosts the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body.

And the vapour kills protective cells in the lung that keep the air spaces clear of harmful bugs.

These cells should engulf and remove dust particles, bacteria, and allergens.

The scientists extracted cells from lung samples provided by eight healthy non-smokers.

Some were exposed to e-cig fluid, some to condensed vapour and some to nothing for 24 hours.

The vapour was significantly more harmful than the fluid and effects worsened as the dose rose.

Exposure to the vapour increased cell death and the production of inflammatory chemicals.

And the ability of cells to engulf bacteria was significantly impaired in those exposed to vapour.

The effects were worse when it contained nicotine, the University of Birmingham study reveals.

Most previous research has focused on the liquid’s content, rather than the effect of the vapour.

Study leader Prof David Thickett said “I don’t believe e-cigarettes are more harmful than ordinary cigarettes.

“But we should have a cautious scepticism that they are as safe as we are being led to believe.

“They are safer in terms of cancer risk – but if you vape for 20 or 30 years and this can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, then that’s something we need to know about.”

Public Health England says e-cigs are 95 per cent safer than traditional cigarettes.

And they suggest smokers should consider switching to vaping in a bid to help them quit.

But critics warn vaping may cause lung disease, keep people hooked on nicotine, or act as route in to smoking for kids.

Commenting on the findings, Prof John Britton, from the University of Nottingham, said: “Long-term use of electronic cigarettes is likely to have adverse effects.

“However, since e-cigarettes are used almost exclusively in the UK by current or former smokers, the key question is how this adverse effect compares with that of exposure to cigarette smoke.

“The harsh truth is that smoking kills, and smokers who switch completely to e-cigarettes are likely to substantially reduce the likelihood of premature death and disability.”

Some 7.4million Brits smoke and 2.8million use e-cigs, Office for National Statistics figures show.

Aug 10th 2018

Vaping: how safe is it?

survey of adolescents carried out by researchers at Coventry University has shown that than less than half of e-cigarette users knew that vape products contain nicotine or that they are addictive, raising the possibility that they could be a gateway to smoking normal cigarettes. Nicotine addiction is a real problem but the health issues posed by e-cigarettes are potentially greater than just addiction.

The first Europeans to arrive in America at the end of the 15th century soon encountered the local custom of smoking tobacco – and they in turn introduced the practice to Europe. Successive English monarchs were opposed to it – King James I famously wrote a book entitled A Counterblaste to Tobacco – but, in the end, governments settled on taxing it.

The compound responsible for the pleasurable aspects of smoking tobacco (and for its addictive properties) is nicotine, a “secondary metabolite” produced by the tobacco plant Nicotiana tabacum as a defence against herbivores.

Smoking tobacco destroys most of the molecules present in it, including nicotine, but the small amount of nicotine that survives (around 10%) is carried from the lungs, via the blood, to the brain within less than ten seconds. Once in the brain, it stimulates the release of neurotransmitters, including the “pleasure molecule” dopamine. The link between taking a “drag” on the cigarette and the brain’s “pleasure” response explains why smoking can be so addictive, as it associates pleasure with the act of smoking.

A dangerous game

Most of the dangers of smoking do not come directly from nicotine. Cigarette smoke contains around 4,000 different compounds and the most dangerous molecules are carcinogens such as benzo[a]pyrene and nitrosamines such as N’-nitrosonornicotine (NNN), which is derived from nicotine. Tobacco “tar”, which is carried in the smoke to the mouth and lungs, is rich in these toxic substances.

If you smoke tobacco, the smoke damages the DNA in organs exposed to it as well as others indirectly exposed, speeding up genetic mutations and increasing the risk of cancer – not just of the lung, but also of the mouth, larynx, liver, cervix, oesophagus, pancreas, bladder and kidney. Not all these mutations lead to cancer, but the more of them there are, the more likely it is that cancer-causing mutations will occur.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), smoking-related disease causes around six million deaths a year (about 600,000 of these from “passive smoking”). Around 100,000 of these deaths occur in the UK and half a million in the US. Nicotine does not cause these deaths directly, but addiction to nicotine does.

Within the past decade or so, e-cigarettes have been marketed as a way to enjoy smoking with fewer of the health risks of traditional cigarettes – for one thing, as e-cigarettes don’t burn tobacco, they should eliminate the risks associated with tar. They contain a battery, a metal heating element and a reservoir of liquid, which is converted to a vapour by the heating element and is inhaled by the smoker. The liquid is made up of a solvent, either glycerol or propylene glycol, nicotine, and often food-grade flavourings.

So what’s the problem with e-cigarettes, if they do not produce carcinogenic tar? Well, nicotine or other molecules found in e-cigarettes can still affect lung health. A significant number of the flavour chemicals used in many liquids are aldehydes, and these are often irritants of the mucosal tissue in the respiratory tract when inhaled.

Typical examples are cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon), vanillin (vanilla) and diacetyl (buttery). Tests on endothelial cells, the cells which line the blood vessels and the inside of the heart, show that some e-cigarette flavourings and their constituents (such as vanillin, cinnamaldehyde, diacetyl, isoamyl acetate and menthol) may harm blood vessels. They caused higher levels of an inflammatory marker (interleukin-6) and lower levels of nitric oxide, a molecule with several roles, such as inhibiting inflammation and clotting, and dilating blood vessels. In the body, these two changes are considered to be an early predictor of heart disease. Although the food flavourings are in themselves safe when used in food (as are the solvents) that does not mean they necessarily are entirely safe for a different use, such as in e-cigarettes.

Studies have shown that some of these molecules, notably the solvents, can be decomposed when heated to above 300°C by the heating element in the e-cigarette. Three substances, all aldehydes, formed on the breakdown of glycerol and propylene glycol have come in for particular attention – acrolein, methanal and ethanal.

You’ve probably met acrolein (propenal) – it’s the chemical formed when cooking oil is heated until it begins to smoke. It is toxic and can severely irritate eyes and nasal passages. Ethanal (acetaldehyde) and methanal (formaldehyde) are also toxic – methanal, in particular, is a well-known carcinogen.

These substances may also be formed by decomposition of the flavouring molecules.

The verdict

So are these molecules produced at dangerous concentrations in e-cigarettes? While use of e-cigarettes has been shown to lead to significantly lower levels of certain carcinogenic metabolites in the urine of their smokers, compared to the levels found in smokers of traditional cigarettes, they have been linked with higher levels of some particulates, including the metals cadmium, nickel, chromium, lead and zinc. These may have originated in the heating coil.

There is particular concern that the rapid growth in the use of e-cigarettes has not been accompanied by proper assessment of the risks accompanying their use, especially over the long term. While some reports have said that e-cigarettes are much safer than conventional cigarettes, one study has concluded that regular use of e-cigarettes by young people leads to them becoming heavier smokers of conventional cigarettes; another American study concluded that use of e-cigarettes by teenagers doubles the risk of coughs and bronchitis compared with non-smokers.

E-cigarettes are freely available in the UK, and US, but are banned or restricted in some countries, including Norway, Brazil, Singapore and Australia. A letter published in the British Medical Journal also warned:

Further basic science and epidemiological research is needed to increase our evidence base on the benefits and harms of e-cigarette vapour. Until then patients should not be misled into thinking that the likelihood of future harm is negligible when there is insufficient evidence to advocate this.

At present, then, the bottom line is that no one knows whether there are long-term risks associated with e-cigarettes. Caution is required.


May 22nd 2018

Smokers who have swapped cigarettes in place of e-cigarettes in a bid to quit might want to consider going cold turkey on both, as scientists have warned that vaping could pose the same risks to the heart as smoking.

Findings presented at the European Society for Cardiology congress in Rome revealed that in a typical vaping session, electronic cigarettes caused similar damage to the main artery in the heart as a packet of cigarettes

With researchers now advising smokers against the long-term use of vaping, there’s never been a better time to kick the habit for good. 

Of course, anyone who has tried to give up in the past will know that stopping smoking is not easy. 

But if you’re really committed to successfully saying goodbye to cigarettes, you can make small and inexpensive changes to your lifestyle that may help you resist the temptation to smoke. 

Here are six to try today: 

Make a plan to quite smoking


Vaping ‘as bad as smoking’


Set a date to give up smoking completely, and then stick to it. This way you’ll have time to prepare to give up without losing your motivation to quit. Most people find that the ‘not even a drag’ method helps keep bad habits at bay. This means not succumbing to having small drags of other people’s cigarettes or e-cigarettes at times of temptation. 

Many smokers enjoy a cigarette in the evening after dinner, but being particular about the foods you eat might stop you scrambling for a lighter after you’ve cleared your place. A US study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. Others, including cheese, fruit and vegetables, can actually make cigarettes taste less appetising. 

Changing your routines at mealtimes can help too. If you usually light up in the evening, keep yourself busy by washing the dishes or going for a walk after dinner. 

Change your drink

Love smoking a cigarette with your coffee? In the same study, it was revealed that fizzy drinks, alcohol and caffeine can also make cigarettes taste better. So instead of loading up on Coca Cola and cups of tea, try sticking to water and juice instead. 

Start exercising

Scientific studies have proven that exercise - even a five-minute walk - can cut down your nicotine cravings and may even help your brain to produce anti-craving chemicals. 

London's best gyms

Keep your hands and mouth busy

If you haven’t already considered it, nicotine replacement therapy could increase your chance of success by double. There are patches, tablets, lozenges, gum and nasal sprays available that can help to wean you off nicotine gradually.

If you usually smoke when you’re out, try putting your drink in the hand that usually holds an e-cigarette, and drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy. 

Keep a fund of all the money you’ve saved from smoking and spend it on something special

If you manage to stick to your quit plan, you’ll soon notice how much money you're saving.

Keep your smoking funds aside to treat yourself to something special as a reward for your diligence - whether that’s a holiday or a shopping splurge. You’ll soon realise how much extra cash you have at your disposal when you're not funding your vaping habit.

For more advice on quitting smoking, visit nhs.co.uk


May 5th 2018

7 triggers that caused people to stop smoking

As anyone who's tried to quit smoking will tell you, kicking the habit isn't as easy as some people think it is. Undoing years – or even decades – of a habit takes effort, willpower and often some external guidance.

Knowing why you want to quit and having a goal in mind can be a huge motivation for staying on the right track, from putting your health first to needing to save some money. To find out the real-life triggers that cause people to quit, we spoke to seven ex-smokers about why they packed up the cigarettes and how their lives have changed since giving up the habit.

1. 'I was prematurely ageing myself' - Emma, London

"I always said that I'd stop smoking at 25 but I didn't. At 27 I realised that I had been smoking for around 10 years and the thought of the damage it had done to my body in that time was the wake up call I needed. I started noticing the state of my hair, skin and nails and knew they'd look better if I quit.

"To help me quit, I followed a quit plan and haven't looked back since. I feel much healthier and have noticed a marked improvement in my skin."

Smoking has negative impacts on your hair, skin and nails, all of which can be halted by giving up cigarettes for good. To help you kick the habit, try My Quit Plan by Nicorette and work out the best way for you to go smoke-free. The plan will help you to assess your current habit and any quitting methods you've tried before to help you come up with a plan that works for you.

2. 'My social life was suffering' - Kelly, Edinburgh

"People often say that smoking is social, but for me it was almost the opposite. I stopped smoking because I was always going outside by myself to have a fag in the freezing cold. I went cold turkey and decided that I didn't want to be the girl that is always missing out on nights out because I'm by myself, reeking of smoke.

"Nowadays, I don't miss out on anything that happens on a night out. I get to be part of the group and I feel so much better the next morning than I used to when I was drinking and smoking at the same time."

Ever since the smoking ban came into effect in 2007, the prevalence of smoking fell in subsequent years, particularly in younger age groups. Brown University also discovered that people who smoked on a night out where heavy drinking was involved were also more likely to experience a hangover and more intense hangover symptoms too.

3. 'The savings paid for a car' - Rebecca, London

"When I was 21 I worked out that the amount I spent on smoking every week could fund running a car. I stopped immediately and a month or so later I bought a car. I loved that little motor.

"I never started smoking again, it gave me a huge amount of confidence knowing that I'd had the willpower to stop. I thought if I can do that, I can do anything."

The cost of cigarettes has risen dramatically over the last few years, alongside a hike in taxes and smaller packets being taken off the shelves. On average, most people who quit save around £156 each month (based on an 11-a-day habit and a pack of 20 cigarettes costing £9.40), which adds up to nearly £1,872 a year according to the Nicorette Stop Smoking Calculator. That's a big chunk of money to add to your annual savings.

4. 'My confidence needed a boost' - Arusha, Newcastle

"I originally stopped because I had bronchitis. I had to stop so I could breathe properly and it made me realise it's pretty gross to have a mouth that smells like an ashtray.

"Now, knowing that my breath doesn't stink, I'm so much more confident when meeting new people. This is especially true when it comes to meeting people in a professional capacity."

Smoking is the main cause of chronic bronchitis, affecting both smokers and anyone inhaling secondhand smoke. Cigarettes also increase your risk of developing emphysema, where the air sacs inside your lungs become damaged, causing shortness of breath. As for halitosis, smoking causes your mouth to dry out, leading to bad breath. Cigarettes can also significantly affect the development of gum disease, another major cause of bad breath.

5. 'Trying for a baby forced me to quit' - Alexa, London

"I knew smoking wasn't a great thing to do anyway, but it was trying for a baby that was the impetus in the end. I'd been smoking pretty heavily since I was 16 so it wasn't a walk in the park, but I used inhalators to help.

"I wouldn't start again – I'm now so aware of the impact of passive smoking on my children and the effect of secondary smoke clinging to my clothes and hair. One of my children has a viral wheeze so it's a massive no-no."

Smoking may reduce fertility in women and it's thought to take around three months for an improvement in fertility levels after quitting. Smoking can be hugely damaging to young children after you've given birth, too – the NHS state that secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals and can increase the risk of cot death, asthma, meningitis and serious respiratory conditions.

6. 'I started to focus on my mental health' - Jenni, Colchester

"The trigger to me stopping smoking was a general shift in my attitude. I get health anxiety quite badly so it seemed stupid to be doing something I knew was bad for me.

"I recognised that I smoked the most when I was miserable, anxious or stressed, so I made a conscious effort to take better care of my mental health. I spent time dealing with my issues, particularly after a break-up, and as soon as I'd handled that internally I didn't feel like I needed to smoke as much."

People with mental health problems are more likely to smoke than the general population (and smoke more heavily) but those who quit report a calmer and more positive mindset, according to the NHS. Their evidence suggests that the beneficial effect of stopping smoking on symptoms of anxiety and depression can equal that of taking antidepressants, while it has been shown that cigarettes can interfere with the efficacy of certain medicines. Smoking can also increase feelings of anxiety and irritability in people who don't suffer from mental health issues.

7. 'I couldn't mix smoking with my medication' - Rosie, London

"My GP told me that I wouldn't be allowed to get my contraceptive pill anymore if I still smoked and hit 35, due to the additional health risks I'd be putting on myself. I think this is related to deep vein thrombosis.

"I wasn't prepared to switch to another contraceptive so gave up smoking instead and I got to keep my pill – kind of the opposite of giving up because you're pregnant..."

The majority of birth control pills contain synthetic versions of oestrogen, the female hormone. This hormone can increase the risk of developing blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (the risk of which increases with age), which can lead to strokes, heart attacks or pulmonary embolisms, meaning this particular type of contraception isn't prescribed for women who have two or more risk factors, such as being in your mid-thirties and smoking.

Make the first step in your journey towards quitting smoking with My Quit Plan by Nicorette.

Nicorette contains nicotine. Stop smoking aid. Requires willpower. Always read the label. UK/NI/18-10960.

April 17th 2018

Reality TV shows and films 'encourage teenagers to smoke'

Contestants’ cigarette habits in the reality TV show Love Island and Winston Churchill’s cigars in the Oscar-winning film Darkest Hour inspire children to take up smoking, anti-tobacco campaigners have warned MPs.

Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies said children in the UK are still exposed to significant amounts of on-screen smoking. They cited a rise in smoking in Oscar-nominated films and research that showed cigarettes appeared in Love Island every five minutes on average with the Lucky Strike brand appearing 16 times.

This year, 86% of Oscar-nominated films contained someone smoking, up from 60% four years ago, the groups told the Commons science and technology select committee. Just over half of the nominated actors depicted smokers, the highest level in several years, research found.

Given Love Island’s popularity with young people, last summer’s series left 47m “gross impressions” of smoking on children under 16, the campaigners told the MPs in a submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the impact of social media and screen use on young people’s health.

The campaigners want the communications regulator, Ofcom, and the British Board of Film Classification to monitor youth exposure to depictions of tobacco use on screen, to discourage any depictions of tobacco use and require broadcasters or cinemas to run anti-smoking ads during presentations that feature smoking.

Smoking is banned in UK advertising, but not in programmes. Craig Lawson, a dumped Love Island contestant, told the Sun last year that every islander was given at least 20 cigarettes a day by producers, if they wanted them.

“Ofcom and the BBFC, which regulate these sectors, need to take the necessary steps to warn parents of the risks and protect our children from the harmful effects of tobacco imagery,” said Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of Ash.

Arnott said that while Churchill was a famous cigar smoker and to show him smoking was justified, the majority of the smoking roles on biographical films were taken by fictional characters who the film-makers had chosen to show smoking.

However, the pro-smokers’ group Forest said Ash was mounting “an attack on artistic freedom” and claimed there was “no significant evidence that smoking on TV or film encourages teenagers to smoke”.

Ash responded that multiple academic studies had proved causality and said Forest was funded by the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association.

Forest is supported by companies including British American Tobacco, which makes Lucky Strike and Camel cigarettes.

The submission to MPs includes figures from Cancer Research UK, showing that between 2014 and 2016 about 127,000 children a year started smoking for the first time. That research shows more than 60% of those who try smoking become regular smokers.

“The introduction of standardised packaging of tobacco products, backed up the complete ban on advertising, leaves smoking in the entertainment media as the main way smoking is promoted to children,” said George Butterworth, a senior policy manager at Cancer Research UK.

March 19th 2018

Vaping warning as study reveals E-cigs cause liver disease

Vaping can lead to liver disease, research has suggested.

Researchers found that high nicotine in electronic cigarettes causes non-alcohol fatty liver diseases in mice.

In a 12-week study, they split mice into two groups, one was exposed to e-cigarette aerosol and the other group of mice were exposed to saline aerosol.

They found changes in 433 genes associated with fatty liver development and progression in the mice exposed to e-cigarettes.

Lead author of the study, Professor Theodore Friedman, of Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science in Los Angeles, said: “Because extra fat in the liver is likely to be detrimental to health, we conclude that e-cigarettes are not as safe as they have been promoted to consumers.”

March 15th 2018

What happens when you stop smoking - the rapid change in your body once you stamp out your last cigarette

So you've given up, or you're about to, this is what happens to your body after quitting smoking - and there's quite the difference

So you've quit smoking, what's next?

Stopping smoking can make a drastic improvement to your health, but first there's withdrawal and a whole host of symptoms to expect.

Once you've put aside the cigarettes your body starts to change, there are some changes that are immediate, others take longer.

Smoking kills, but you may not realise how dramatically quitting smoking improves how you look - and feel.

You'll experience withdrawal, but you'll also start to see positive changes from improvements to your breathing to the way you look. There's also changes to inside your body, even though you can't see them doesn't mean they aren't happening.

Here's what to expect when quitting and exactly what happens to your body.

1. Physical withdrawal

This is the hard part. Nicotine is addictive so when you stop taking it in it's tough.

If you go cold turkey it can be difficult at first. Physical symptoms include headaches, dizziness, fatigue, hunger, nausea and coughing.

You will notice you have an increased appetite and have trouble sleeping.

Don't worry, all of this will stop with time. It can take a few weeks to nine months depending on how long you have been smoking.

2. Psychological withdrawal

Mood swings, confusion, depressing thoughts, shortened attention span, shakes, irritability and cravings - for food and cigarettes.

This won't last forever though, so hold on.

This can fade within two weeks - and the symptoms will be gone within nine months.

3. Blood circulation starts to improve

It only takes two hours for your blood circulation to improve drastically (see below for the stages).

Nicotine raises your heart rate and blood pressure, and within hours of quitting - sometimes within half an hour - your heart rate and blood pressure lower to normal, healthy rate.

If you had cold toes and fingers you may feel you're starting to warm up.

4. You may put on weight

As your cravings increase, along with your appetite, you may eat more - and put on weight.

This is normal as your depriving yourself of nicotine which suppresses hunger.

Nicotine hits the brain and activates it's 'fight-or-flight' stress defence, they in turn release stored fats into the bloodstream. It's why smokers don't often feel hungry and why you can have blood sugar swings after quitting.

You may not gain weight, and if you are already changing to a healthier lifestyle you may not see a change.

5. Your heart improves

Twelve hours after quitting the amount of carbon monoxide in your blood decreases, which means the amount of oxygen in your blood increases.

About a year after your quit the likelihood of a heart attack and risk of heart disease drops to half what it is for a smoker.

The other benefits increase as more time passes. It takes 15 years for your risk of heart disease to drop to that of a nonsmoker.

6. Dropping your stoke risk

Smoking increases your risk of suffering a stroke by narrowing the blood vessels, meaning less blood gets to your brain.

It can take about 18 months to 15 years, depending on how long you've smoked, to get back to normal.

7. Breathe easily

The lungs start improving straight away. It can be a few weeks to a few months. You will breathe better and you'll find it easier to exercise.

8. You will cough

While you will find your breathing is improving you will find your cough more. It may seem weird, but it's your lungs clearing themselves out.

It will decrease after about nine months. If you use air purifiers, avoid air polluted areas and try breathing exercises it can help.

There's another reason to smile, your teeth brown with smoking so naturally whiten when you aren't puffing away.

Clean up the smile and sans the cigarettes you'll keep them whiter for longer.

Those yellow stains will fade, you lower your risk of gum recession and your breath will smell better.

You lips also see the benefits as you have less burns or sores.

10. Brighter skin

The phrase you're glowing will actually apply. The chemicals in cigarettes breakdown your skin structure - elastin and collagen. When damaged the skin becomes loose.

Nicotine also narrows blood vessels, limiting blood flow to the skin. That means dull and creased skin.

While quitting doesn't reverse wrinkles, it can slow down the ageing of your skin and prevent more damage.

11. One for the women - your breasts will change

Smoking does actually impact on your breasts too. Chemicals in cigarettes cause skin to sag, so giving up means less sagging.

Smoking is also linked to breast cancer.

12. Everything smells better

Wake up and smell the roses! Well, not literally. Smoking dulls the sense of smell, so when you quit everything smells better. It takes just days for the change to kick in.

13. Your sense of taste

Smell isn't the only sense improving - taste does too. Again you will find there is a change within days. Smokers have a diminished sense of taste, so wait for those buds to regenerate.

Savour your coffee, meals and the nice foods.

14. Immune system strengthens

Smoking suppresses the immune system. You may find you get sick more and stay sick for longer. Smokers can also have autoimmune responses, that's where your own system attacks your lung tissues instead of battling the infection.

When you quit the risk drops, so when you get that cold you will see a quicker recovery time.

15. Instant manicure

It's like a free manicure. Those yellow stains will go, and your nails will look better.

Look out for the line between your new growth and the old. Your hands will also improve as they will age less.

16. Lush hair

Want lush locks? Then quit. Smokers lose more hair as the chemicals also affect your locks.

Your hair follicles are impacted, since you have a lack of blood circulation. Get thicker, lusher looking hair and quit.

What happens after your last cigarette? From 20 minutes to 15 years later (Image: Getty)

·       After 20 minutes your pulse returns to a normal rate.

·       After eight hours oxygen levels return to normal and nicotine and carbon monoxide levels reduce by half.

·       After 48 hours there is no nicotine left in the body and the ability to taste and smell improves. Your risk of having a heart attack begins to reduce.

·       After 2-12 weeks your circulation improves.

·       After 3-9 months lung function improves by 10% and coughing decreases.

·       After 1 year the risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker.

·       After 10 years risk of lung cancer is half that of a smoker.

·       After 15 years risk of having a heart attack is the same as someone who has never smoked.

Feb 7th 2018

E-cigarettes should be available on prescription as medical aids to help smokers quit, health officials have said.

Public Health England (PHE) estimated e-cigarettes could be contributing to 20,000 new quits each year.

The agency also said hospitals should sell e-cigarettes to patients and switch smoking shelters to vaping lounges.

The calls come after PHE published its latest independent review into the evidence surrounding e-cigarettes.

It found the number of people using the products has "plateaued" and now stands at just under three million people in the UK. 

One reason behind the stall in uptake could be misconceptions about the levels of harm linked to the devices.

The review was conducted by experts from King's College London and the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, the University of Stirling and Cancer Research UK.

It found that thousands of smokers "incorrectly" believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking and two in five smokers had not even tried an e-cigarette.

In a linked editorial, published in The Lancet, experts from PHE said: "Although not without risk, the overall risk of harm is estimated at less than 5 per cent of that from smoking tobacco; the risk of cancer has been calculated to be less than 1 per cent."

Following the review, PHE has made a number of recommendations about e-cigarettes, including a call for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to support manufacturers to license the products as medical quit aids so they can be made available on the NHS; encouraging any smoker to switch to using e-cigarettes, and calling on NHS trusts to be "truly smoke free", and as part of this, ensuring e-cigarettes are for sale in hospital shops.

Martin Dockrell, tobacco control lead for PHE, said: "We are saying no smoking anywhere on the grounds [of hospitals], no smoking in the smoking shelter - that shelter becomes a vaping shelter.

"There are two parts to being a smoke-free hospital, one is not allowing smoking on the premises, the other is helping every smoker to quit.

"Some hospitals will decide, especially with their longer-term patients or patients who don't have a choice whether they are there or not, where it will be appropriate to have spaces indoors to have spaces where vaping is permitted.

"The strongest case for that is psychiatric hospitals because [these patients] have got the highest prevalence of smoking and the highest levels of smoking related harm.

"Single occupancy rooms are quite common in mental health trusts so that makes it very easy for people to vape in a single occupancy room without any annoyance to anybody else."

Jan 18th 2018

Using alternative tobacco products makes teens more likely to smoke cigarettes

Teens who use alternative forms of tobacco, such as e-cigarettes, smokeless tobacco, or tobacco water pipes, are more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes within a year, according to a new US study.

Carried out by a team from UC San Francisco, the research is the largest study to date to look at the influence of alternative tobacco use on conventional cigarette smoking in young people, gathering data from a nationally-representative sample of 10,384 adolescents ages 12 to 17.

The participants had never tried a tobacco cigarette, but used an alternative form of tobacco such as e-cigarettes, hookah, non-cigarette combustible tobacco, or smokeless tobacco.

At the one-year follow-up, the team found that using any of these forms of tobacco increased the chance that teens had started smoking tobacco cigarettes, with the risk even higher if they used more than one product. 

"In the last few years, research has focused on the potential of e-cigarettes to engage never-smoking adolescents in tobacco use," said senior author Benjamin W. Chaffee. "Our findings confirm that the use of the full range of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, tobacco water pipes, and smokeless tobacco, is associated with greater odds of future cigarette smoking."

The researchers now believe that the use of these alternative tobacco products has the potential to undermine the public health gains being made in the fight against smoking.

Earlier studies have also shown that smoking a single cigarette per month during adolescence increases the chance of daily smoking during adulthood.

In 2016, nearly 4 million middle and high school students used at least one tobacco product, and 1.8 million of the students reported using two or more products.

E-cigarettes have become particularly popular in recent years and are now the most common form of tobacco used by young people.

The findings can be found published online in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Nov 20th 2017

Smoking e-cigarettes during pregnancy could cause birth defects of the face and oral cavity, new research suggests.

Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University exposed frog embryos and mammalian neural crest cells to chemicals into test whether or not they cause defects, to find out what happens to fetuses when e-cigarettes are used during pregnancy.

Frogs, like other vertebrates, are similar to humans embryonically.

Publishing their findings in the PLOS Onejournal, they wrote that thesame processes and genes govern major developmental events, such as craniofacial development, or the formation of the skull and face.

“This means that if a chemical perturbs a frog embryo, it’s likely to do the same thing to a human embryo,” said lead researcher, Professor Amanda Dickinson.

Mammalian neural crest cells are also ideal models because they have a key role in embryonic facial development, added her colleague, Rene Olivares-Navarrete.

“Neural crest cells are extremely important in the development of craniofacial structures because they can form many different tissues like bones, cartilage, skin, teeth and glands,” Mr Olivares-Navarrete said.

After exposing the embryos to vapour, the researchers recorded the facial measurements and any incidents of cleft palates the embryos developed.

Vapour is created when e-liquids, a blend of nicotine, propylene, glycol, vegetable glycerin and various flavouring compounds, are heated within the e-cigarette during inhalation.

The researchers also tested the effects of the mixture on the viability and function of neural crest cells.

The findings strongly suggested using e-cigarettes could lead to birth defects and in specific experimental trials for specific e-liquid types, all the frog embryos development cleft palates.

“We observed that very complex e-liquids that mix flavours, such as berries and creme and other food-related flavourings, may have the most dramatic effect on the face,” Ms Dickinson said.

All the frog embryos exposed to one particular e-liquid developed clefts with varying degrees of severity, but the researched did not reveal the specific names of the e-liquids or the companies that produce them.

In trials with a flavour described as “nutty,” roughly 75 per cent of the frog embryos developed clefts. When exposed to various other flavours, the frog embryos developed faces that were smaller than average.

The capacity of the neural crest cells to produce associated tissues was also greatly diminished, Mr Olivares-Navarrete said.

Researchers experimented with the same e-liquids without nicotine and found that the cells and frog embryos were still dramatically affected even when nicotine was absent.

“We aim to educate the public about the dangers of vaping and compel policymakers to impose tighter regulations, such as warning labels,” Prof Dickinson said.

Oct 9th 2017

Even in this age of nicotine awareness, you may not realize all the good things that happen to your body when you stop smoking.

While many people haven’t heard how smoking can ruin their looks and put them at risk for diabetes, most have heard that second-hand smoke puts non-smokers at risk, as well. So, here’s something completely new: Thirdhand smoke is deadly as well, according to an alarming new study out of the University of California, Riverside. Long after you’ve put out a cigarette, it’s toxins linger on your carpeting, furniture, bedding, clothing, skin, and hair, and they can cause serious harm to the health of those who live—or spend lots of time—with you.

Smoke accumulates on surfaces, reacts with the air, and changes into carcinogenic chemicals, the study authors explain.

These toxins can remain on surfaces for years, and not only do they have no detectable odour, they’re resistant to even the strongest cleaning agents. So, the researchers, Yuxin Chen, PhD, Manuela Martins-Green, PhD, and graduate student Neema Adhami decided to test whether the compounds could be pose health problems. For six months, they exposed mice to the carcinogens, and the results were alarming. Within one month of exposure to third-hand smoke (THS), the researchers began detecting harmful effects on the mice that continued to increase for the duration of the study. The mice suffered badly.

These last three symptoms are all associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Indeed, the researchers believe that this may be a significant consequence of long term exposure to third-hand smoke. The researchers point out that almost nothing is known about the effects of THS exposure over time. The study “can serve to educate the public on the dangers of THS, and the biomarkers we identified can be used in the clinic, once verified in exposed humans,” the researchers said.

Sept 21st 2017

Quit-smoking campaign Stoptober is to support the use of e-cigarettes for the first time, despite warnings from health experts.

New television adverts launched by Public Health England (PHE) encourage smokers to use e-cigarettes, also known as vapes, to overcome their addiction.

But on Tuesday, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued guidance expressing caution about the risks and benefits of vaping.

Nice said: “The draft guideline does not list e-cigarettes as recommended aids to stop smoking however it does say that advice should be offered on their use."

Nice advised that patients should be told that “there is currently little evidence on their long term benefits or harms.”

E-cigarettes are currently not available on the NHS. But on the NHS website, they are described as “a great way to help combat nicotine cravings” carrying “a fraction of the risk of cigarettes”.

Latest figures show 15.5 per cent of over 18s smoked in England in 2016. This is a significant decrease from the year 2000, when over a quarter of adults smoked.

But as smoking has decreased, vaping has increased. About one in 20 people over 16 regularly uses e-cigarettes.

1.5 million people have taken part in Stoptober since it launched in 2011, many of them receiving free one-on-one support from a medical professional via the NHS.

Vaping has since become the most popular method of stopping smoking, with 53 per cent of people using e-cigarettes to try and quit.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics estimate around 79,000 smoking-related deaths in 2015.

Stoptober begins on October 1.

Related: E-Cigs May Help You Quit Smoking

Sept 10th 2017

E-cigarettes containing nicotine could increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, researchers have found.

A study discovered that vaping devices containing the stimulant could cause a stiffening of the arteries, as well as an increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Scientists in Stockholm, Sweden, recruited 15 healthy volunteers to take part in the experiment, none of whom had used e-cigarettes before.

The tests found in the 30 minutes after smoking the e-cigarettes containing nicotine, there was a significant increase in blood pressure, heart rate and arterial stiffness.

There was no such effect in the volunteers who smoked the e-cigarettes without nicotine.

Dr Magnus Lundback, of the Danderyd University Hospital, Karolinska Institute, said: "The number of e-cigarette users has increased dramatically in the last few years. E-cigarettes are regarded by the general public as almost harmless.

"The e-cigarette industry markets their product as a way to reduce harm and to help people to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes. However, the safety of e-cigarettes is debated, and a growing body of evidence is suggesting several adverse health effects.

"The results are preliminary, but in this study we found there was a significant increase in heart rate and blood pressure in the volunteers who were exposed to e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Arterial stiffness increased around three-fold in those who were exposed to nicotine containing e-cigarettes compared to the nicotine-free group."

While the effects seen in the tests were temporary, Dr Lundback said that chronic exposure to e-cigarettes with nicotine could cause permanent effects on arterial stiffness in the long term

Aug 30th 2017

Nicotine reduction in cigarettes makes them less addictive and could help curb smoking rates, new study has found.

A team of scientists looked at how reducing nicotine levels affected smokers’ habits, focusing on vulnerable smokers, poverty-stricken women and those with mental health issues.

Interestingly, it found that lowering nicotine levels does reduce the addiction potential of cigarettes and that “in relatively healthy and socially stable smokers ... reducing nicotine content of cigarettes reduces their attractiveness”.

“This study provides a very encouraging indication that reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes would help vulnerable populations,” said Professor Stephen Higgins, who led the study.

"This is highly encouraging news with tremendous potential to improve public health."

In light of the findings, the Food and Drugs Administration in the US are set to impose changes on cigarettes in order to “protect kids and significantly reduce tobacco-related disease and death".

If the move is successful, Brit experts have claimed that it is only a matter of time before it’s introduced in the UK too.

“A number of studies have examined reducing the nicotine in cigarettes, with promising results,” Linda Bauld, professor of health policy, University of Stirling, told The Sun.

“This would make smoking less appealing and addictive. In carefully controlled trials, there is some evidence it could help smokers cut down or quit.

“However, there will be big challenges implementing this in the real world.

"Cigarettes are available globally, and selling less addictive products in the USA could result in a black market in imported or counterfeit products."

Prof Robert West, professor of health psychology, UCL, agreed adding: “If we could move directly from where we are to a world where no accessible tobacco product contained addictive levels of nicotine that might work.

”Unfortunately this will not happen and in the meantime the demonisation of nicotine could undermine the complementary approach of encouraging smokers to switch to less harmful forms of nicotine use such as e-cigarettes.”

Related: Hunt wants NHS to treat a million more by 2021 (provided by ITN News)

April 10th 2017


New rules on vaping are coming into force within weeks - and if you're a vaper you will need to be aware of these changes.

The new Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 comes into force on Monday, May 20, and introduces a number of rules about the sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids

Ahead of the changes to the law, the Plymouth Herald spoke to the local Trading Standards who want to make sure that all local manufacturers and retailers are aware of the changes.

Those changes include:

- All e-cigarettes and e-liquids must be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency before they can be sold

- Refillable tanks for e-cigarettes must be no bigger than 2ml capacity

- E-liquids cannot be sold in quantities greater than 10ml

- Unless registered as a medicine the strength of nicotine in an E-liquid must not exceed 20mg/ml

- The packaging of E-liquids must be child-resistant and tamper evident

- Certain additives such as the stimulants caffeine and taurine or colourings are banned

- New labelling requirements

Anyone who does not comply could face imprisonment of up to two years and/or an unlimited fine.

These changes to the law apply to anyone who makes or sells e-cigarettes and e-liquids including those who sell online via social media, auction sites or from their own website.

Trading Standards are particularly keen to get the message out to people who brew e-liquids at home to sell online as these are the most difficult business to reach.

Trading Standards manager Alex Fry said: “We are finding that shops are aware of the changes to the law but small online retailers are not.

With millions of buyers ready and waiting, there’s no better place for you to sell than eBay.

“We have found online sellers selling e-liquids in 100ml bottles with a nicotine strength over 20mg/ml. After 20 May this will be illegal unless the e-liquid is registered as a medicine.”

Jan 2nd 2017

As January arrives, a significant proportion of the population will make belated resolutions to finally quit smoking .

The party season is over, and there’s no longer an excuse to drink a week’s allowance of alcohol in one day, while merrily puffing your way through a 20-pack.

A cheeky drag outside a party doesn’t exactly fit in with the yoga and Nutribullet smoothies lifestyle you’ve sworn to follow this January either.

But quitting smoking is one of the most easily broken resolutions – it only takes a stressful day at work (or the thought of going back to work at all) to feel the need for a nicotine fix.

So if you really want to pack in the smokes, what’s the best way to go about it? Here is everything you need to know about the numbers, no-nos and reality of breathing clean this year.

Number crunching

Around 10 million adults in the UK smoke – but only 30-40% of them try to quit every year.

In Great Britain 22% of adult men and 17% of adult women are smokers

The highest number of smokers is in the 25-34 age group (25%); the lowest is among those aged 60 and over (11%).

The scary stats are that half of all smokers are eventually killed by their addiction from smoking-related causes. Not to mention that smoking is the cause of over one third of respiratory deaths, over one quarter of cancer deaths, and about one-seventh of cardiovascular disease deaths.

Plus, having a drink with a cigarette increases your chance of getting mouth cancer by 38 times. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

The science

People enjoy smoking because of two things: the physical addiction and the psychological habit. While smokers get hooked on the temporary high caused by nicotine in the bloodstream, the habit also becomes part of a daily ritual – a crutch to return to when stressed or in social situations - and an automatic response when taking a break from work.

The best ways to quit

Don’t go cold turkey

Going cold turkey may suit some, but the shock of withdrawal for others makes them more likely to reach for a cigarette sooner. The best thing to do is make a plan that addresses the short-term challenges of quitting smoking as well as preventing relapse later on.

Short-term solutions might include using nicotine gum or inhalers, or e-cigarettes, which have recently been approved by British drug regulators to be sold as a medicine for quitting smoking. The e-Voke cigarette can now be prescribed on the NHS.

Choose a quit date

Choose a definitive day to bin the smokes and make sure no cigarettes, lighters or papers are within eyesight. Pick a day that won’t involve going to places like the pub so that all temptation can be avoided.

Tell your friends, tell your families

Tell everyone from Harry in accounts to your grandma that you’ve quit smoking; that way, the shame of relapsing will be magnified as you imagine your child’s face when you tell them you’ve fallen off the wagon. Having a quit buddy will also help – a friend who packs the cigs in at the same time as you, with whom you can commiserate and whom you can encourage.

Notice when you crave cigarettes

A cigarette craving usually lasts around five minutes, according to the NHS. Before you decide to quit, make a list of five minute strategies that will distract you from the craving. It could be having a healthy snack, using a nicotine replacement or offering to get people drinks at the bar.

Calculate how much money you’ll save

One of the best perks of giving up smoking, beside the health benefits, is the enormous amount of money you’ll save.

If you smoke 10 a day, after one month of giving up you’ll have saved a minimum of £46, and after six months you’ll have banked £275. That money can go towards a nice meal or a new wardrobe rather than the gradual corrosion of your lung tissue.

Avoid other smokers

Tell your friends who smoke not to smoke around you or offer you a cigarette. It might be tough feeling like the loser at a party but you’ll feel good at the end of the night having notched up another smoke-free day.

What to expect after you quit

After 20 minutes… 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your heart rate will drop down to normal levels.

After 24 hours… Smokers are 70% more likely to get a heart attack than non-smokers, but after a full day of not smoking your risk of heart attack will begin to drop.

After two days… Smoking deadens the taste buds on your tongue, but 48 hours after you quit smoking, your nerve endings will begin to regrow and your sense of taste will be enhanced.

After three days… Three days is the magical point where all the nicotine will leave your body. This means your cravings will peak at this point and you may experience physical symptoms like headaches and nausea. But this just means it’s working!

After one week… Nicotine cravings will still be intense during the first week. But cravings don’t last long, so distract yourself and then they will pass quickly. Finding an oral substitute helps, so chew on mints or celery to alleviate the itch to smoke.

After two weeks… Your lung function will improve significantly and you will breathe more easily as your lungs start to clear. You’ll be able to do exercise without feeling winded and sick.

One to nine months after you quit… After about a month, your lungs will begin to repair. The cilia inside them (tiny hair-like cells that push mucus out) will start to function properly again and do their job more efficiently, preventing you from infection and dramatically decreasing any coughing.

One year after you quit… A landmark. Your risk of heart disease will go down by fifty per cent, meaning you have the same risk factor as a non smoker.

Sept 20th


Smoking rates across England are the lowest on record, health officials have said.

Public Health England (PHE) said that 16.9 per cent of the population in England are smokers - the lowest level since records began.

The figures were released as the health body launched its annual Stoptober campaign to encourage the nation's remaining smokers to quit for the month of October. If people give up the habit for 28 days they are five times more likely to quit for good, PHE said.

In England there are now twice as many ex-smokers (14.6 million people), than current smokers (7.2 million), PHE added. Last year, out of the 2.5 million smokers who made a quit attempt, 500,000 people (20 per cent) were successful.

PHE also released regional figures on areas that have seen the biggest decreases in smoking rates over the last four years.

Smoking rates in the South West have fallen from 18.7 per cent to 15.5 per cent, in the North East the percentage of smokers has fallen from 22 per cent to 18.7 per cent and in Yorkshire and Humber the number of smokers dipped from 21.9 per cent to 18.6 per cent.

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at PHE, said: "While it is amazing that there are over twice as many ex-smokers as current smokers in England, there are still over seven million people regularly lighting up

“Alongside unhealthy diet, smoking is the biggest cause of preventable early death in England, accounting for over 78,000 deaths a year. Quitters will soon see they have reduced blood pressure, easier breathing and better circulation. Stopping smoking is the best thing a smoker can do to improve their health."



"We have a range of free support that can go direct to your phone, laptop or tablet via the Stoptober app, a daily email service or Facebook Messenger bot. The new Stoptober website also has advice and information on stop-smoking services and quitting aids."

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said: "Quit smoking campaigns like Stoptober are a waste of public money because smokers don't need the state to help them quit.

"Smokers who want to stop are increasingly using free market solutions like e-cigarettes that cost the public nothing."

Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: "We know that smoking is the number one cause of preventable early death, and that if you have a lung condition like COPD it is often the single most important thing you can do to turn your health around.

"On top of this human cost, smoking has been estimated to cost the economy over £10 billion a year. We therefore support public health campaigns like Stoptober that motivate and support people to quit."

Press Association

Sep 4th 2016

Smokers who have swapped cigarettes in place of e-cigarettes in a bid to quit might want to consider going cold turkey on both, as scientists have warned that vaping could pose the same risks to the heart as smoking.

Findings presented at the European Society for Cardiology congress in Rome revealed that in a typical vaping session, electronic cigarettes caused similar damage to the main artery in the heart as a packet of cigarettes

With researchers now advising smokers against the long-term use of vaping, there’s never been a better time to kick the habit for good. 

Of course, anyone who has tried to give up in the past will know that stopping smoking is not easy. 

But if you’re really committed to successfully saying goodbye to cigarettes, you can make small and inexpensive changes to your lifestyle that may help you resist the temptation to smoke. 

Here are six to try today: 

Make a plan to quite smoking

Vaping ‘as bad as smoking’

 Set a date to give up smoking completely, and then stick to it. This way you’ll have time to prepare to give up without losing your motivation to quit. Most people find that the ‘not even a drag’ method helps keep bad habits at bay. This means not succumbing to having small drags of other people’s cigarettes or e-cigarettes at times of temptation. 

Change your diet

·        Doctors call for e-cigarette ban in public places over 'passive vaping' fears

·        Nick Curtis: It's a drag, but we should ban vaping in public

·        Is vaping going to replace smoking entirely?

Many smokers enjoy a cigarette in the evening after dinner, but being particular about the foods you eat might stop you scrambling for a lighter after you’ve cleared your place. A US study revealed that some foods, including meat, make cigarettes more satisfying. Others, including cheese, fruit and vegetables, can actually make cigarettes taste less appetising. 

Changing your routines at mealtimes can help too. If you usually light up in the evening, keep yourself busy by washing the dishes or going for a walk after dinner. 

Change your drink

Love smoking a cigarette with your coffee? In the same study, it was revealed that fizzy drinks, alcohol and caffeine can also make cigarettes taste better. So instead of loading up on Coca Cola and cups of tea, try sticking to water and juice instead. 

Start exercising

Scientific studies have proven that exercise - even a five-minute walk - can cut down your nicotine cravings and may even help your brain to produce anti-craving chemicals. 

Keep your hands and mouth busy

If you haven’t already considered it, nicotine replacement therapy could increase your chance of success by double. There are patches, tablets, lozenges, gum and nasal sprays available that can help to wean you off nicotine gradually.

If you usually smoke when you’re out, try putting your drink in the hand that usually holds an e-cigarette, and drink from a straw to keep your mouth busy. 

Keep a fund of all the money you’ve saved from smoking and spend it on something special

If you manage to stick to your quit plan, you’ll soon notice how much money you're saving.

Keep your smoking funds aside to treat yourself to something special as a reward for your diligence - whether that’s a holiday or a shopping splurge. You’ll soon realise how much extra cash you have at your disposal when you're not funding your vaping habit.

For more advice on quitting smoking, visit nhs.co.uk


Feb 15th

Federal MP Ewen Jones reckons giving up smokes was the best thing he ever did, amid speculation the federal government might follow Labor and hike the tax on cigarettes.

The Queensland coalition backbencher acknowledged the massive cost of smoking to the community and public health system with cancer patients "getting bits and pieces chopped off".

"One of the greatest things I've ever done is given them up," he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

Mr Jones said he had not heard any concrete proposals from his side of politics on changes to the tobacco excise.

"No government or party comes towards smokers with a position of policy purity - it is an income stream," he said.

The government's budget razor gang is said to be considering a proposal to increase the excise which could lift the price of a packet of cigarettes to $40.

Labor already has announced it will increase the excise if it wins office and use the additional revenue to fund its Gonski schools policy.

Government MP Andrew Laming, who is an eye specialist, argued increasing the excise would hit addicts and low-income people the hardest.

It would also come at the "price of their family's well-being".

Dr Laming said Labor could not calculate how much money the measure would raise because it was a consumption tax and impossible to model.

"They spend the money before they've got it," he told reporters.

Labor MP Jim Chalmers said the issue would open up another front in the civil war eating up the Liberal Party.

He pointed out that Treasurer Scott Morrison and former prime minister Tony Abbott are on the record opposing any increase to cigarette taxes.

Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm says the move may grow the tobacco black market.

"We already have almost the highest taxes on tobacco in the world ... it is contributing to a major black market in cigarettes," he told reporters.

Feb 26th
BANGKOK — Weeks after the military government hiked taxes on cigarettes to discourage smoking, it announced today it will take measures to keep smoking affordable for the poor.

The director of the government cigarette agency said Friday it will release a new type of low-cost cigarette in order to keep them in the hands of low-income smokers, who may otherwise resort to the black market or rolling their own.

“Some customers turn to tobacco that they can roll up on their own, and some turn to untaxed and bootleg and illegal cigarettes,” Daonoi Suttiniphapunt, director of Thailand Tobacco Monopoly, told Matichon Online. “Because they are a third cheaper than the cigarettes on the market.”

The solution, she said, is to launch a new brand of smaller, inexpensive cigarettes no later than April.

“The price will be about 40 baht per pack in order to target the market of low-income consumers, and help them afford cigarettes,” Daonoi said.

Feb 12th

e-Cigarettes are dangerous a new report suggests.

Smoking e-cigarettes in pregnancy could be dangerous, women have been warned after a study suggested that it might damage the brains of unborn children.

chemicals in vamping liquid were found to walk the minds of mouse embryos, although it is not certain that the same would happen in humans.

The neuroscientist who lead the work said that the cigarettes might be no better than tobacco for pregnant women. Independent experts said that it would be best to avoid all forms of smoking during pregnancy until there was concrete scientific evidence that it was safe.

the NHS is expected to begin prescribing a brand of cigarettes to help people to quit smoking, British regulators currently suggests that the devices are safe alternatives for pregnant women.

A spokesman for the U.K.'s medical and Healthcare products regulatory agency said we want to ensure that licensed nicotine containing products including e-cigarettes which make medicinal claims are available and meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy to help reduce the harms from smoking.

Apart from the smoke there is a video of an e-cigarette exploding in a man's pocket whilst he is standing in a shop

Cigarette smoking

I gave up smoking when I was 12 years old, and now, at 84. I am very glad I did, it is never too late to give up smoking.

Be brutally honest -- cigarettes make people sick and many people die because of them. Perhaps you know someone who has died from a smoking-related illness: You should let your kids know the truth about the devastating effects of a lifetime of smoking.

You can also role play how your children could say “no” to someone who is pressuring them to smoke, and be sure your kids know that no matter what they might see in movies or on television, smoking isn’t cool.

Besides addiction and disease, these short-term effects of tobacco may help turn your kids off to smoking:

  • Smoking hurts your lungs and makes it harder to breathe, especially during sports.
  • Smokers can’t run as fast or as far as nonsmokers.
  • Cigarette smoke makes your hair and clothes stink.
  • Tobacco causes yellow stains on your teeth and bad breath.
  • Spit tobacco can cause your mouth to bleed, sores in the mouth, and cracked lips. Money spent on cigarettes can be put to much better use.
  • Be honest with yourself, would you give up smoking. If you could;  well you can.
  • Be honest with yourself, can you really afford to smoke there maybe  two answers to this question.
  • yes, I have plenty of money, or
  • No , I'm killing myself, I am already ill, if I go on like this . my life will be cut short and my children will become orphans.

How often have people said to you, that's a stupid habit, you want to give that up as soon as you can, I really thought you had more sense, is not even cool any more. If you want to create a good impression, say no thanks, I've given it up.

You will be much better off in many ways, you will be richer, you will smell fresher, you will not be poisoning your family  or your friends,, and you'll even be able to eat  inside the restaurant.

There are many things that have been invented to help you kick the habit. You can even go to a hypnotist and have your mind bent, it's a good start to visit your doctor and tell him or her, you want to quit, they will congratulate you and ask you how are we going to do it.

The only thing that really works is willpower and your desire to stop, think of it this way, the people that love you will be overjoyed if you make the effort and will love you even more. If you succeed.

Then you have to consider the damaging effects of your second hand smoke on your children who are breathing every day contaminated air.

And even if your Child is not yet born do you really want your smoking whilst pregnant to have an effect that makes your child less than the 100% healthy that you hope for.

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