Myths and Vaping

As an avid follower of Choice I was dismayed to read the article regarding health claims and e-cigarettes. Dismayed not because the article was chosen to be printed, but because the claims have arisen from studies that were proven to be flawed and it would seem that no one at Choice questioned it.

I would ask that before simply reprinting something because it came over the news wire that Choice perform at least a minimum of fact checking. I HAD thought that was what Choice did, but obviously not and certainly not in this case.

E-Cigarette Formaldehyde Exposure (Credit: British American Tobacco)
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For my part, I was a smoker for decades. 15 - 20 per day. In the past I had tried every approach to quit smoking tobacco and the best I could manage was a few days. In desperation I tried vaping and found that by using an APV (Advanced Personal Vaporiser) I was able to able to reduce cigarette use to 2 or 3 per day, and within two weeks was able to quit tobacco altogether. That was 12 months ago.

In doing so, I didn’t want to replace one harm with another equally dangerous product so I did my homework and found that while they are not able to say vaping is harmless, it is not nearly as harmful as using tobacco. Current research puts the level of harm at about 95% less harmful than smoking and almost no risk of second hand harm and these numbers come from the British Medical Journal.

While smoking and vaping resemble each other, there is little comparison beyond that. As a vaper, I will never go back to tobacco . . .
o I am not spending $150- $200 per week like I used to.
o Vaping similar amount to smoking costs $0.10 - $0.20 per day.
o I feel better.
o I don’t smell like an ashtray.
o Health is improving every day.
o While I am still consuming nicotine, I am not consuming the > 200 other nasties contained in tobacco.
o Have started a slow and controlled reduction of nicotine content (which is almost impossible to do with tobacco) with a view to quitting completely.

A quick search on Google shows that research is being done and shows promise, but that there is far more misinformation and vested interests out there that wants people to NOT have any alternative.

Consider the report published this week by the Royal College of Physicians . . .
“summarizes the growing body of science on e-cigarettes and finds that their benefits far outweigh the potential harms. It concludes resoundingly that, at least so far, the devices are helping people more than harming them, and that the worries about them—including that using them will lead young people to eventually start smoking traditional cigarettes—have not come to pass”.

Harm: Tobacco vs Vaping
A new paper published in Addiction concludes that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful compared to conventional cigarettes and it would be beneficial for smokers to switch rather than continue smoking. The authors suggest healthcare professionals to advice smokers unable or unwilling to quit through other methods to switch to e-cigarette use as an alternative to smoking.

As a aid to quitting tobacco
A randomized controlled trial evaluating e-cigarettes effectiveness in reducing cigarette consumption and quitting smoking was published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The study, led by Prof Frank Baeyens from the University of Leuven-Belgium, evaluated the efficacy of e-cigarette use in reducing smoking craving (in a laboratory session) and subsequently the 5-month smoking reduction or cessation rate in 48 participants (smokers who had NO intention to quit smoking). A control group of smokers not using an e-cigarette was included; they were given an e-cigarette 2 months after study initiation.
It shows that . . .

  1. Even in smokers with no intention to quit, e-cigarettes are very effective smoking substitutes.
  2. Restrictions in availability of nicotine-containing liquids can have devastating effects by causing a relapse back to smoking or by preventing smokers from using effective e-cigarette products.
    Both messages should be seriously considered by regulators. At last, they must understand their ethical obligation to promote the interest and health of smokers. Any decision against that, and any regulations restricting availability, should make them accountable for the adverse health effects expected in smokers who relapse back to smoking, in smokers who are discouraged from switching to a less harmful alternative, and in smokers who are deceived into thinking that e-cigarettes are equally harmful to tobacco cigarettes.

I’m happy to discuss this, but only if it’s to be an INFORMED debate!



Hi @Witzend.

I am no expert but there was a program on SBS (one of Dr Michael Molley’s) which indicated that while e-cigarettes may have lower concentrations of harmful chemicals compared to cigarettes, however, the science shows that e-cigarettes contains chemical compounds which are still harmful to ones health. It may be worth trying to source this video to view…noting that it is no longer on SBS ondemand.

This program did find some positive effects in smokers who used e-cigarettes compared to smoking and it was discussed that e-cigarettes may assist in one quitting (I suspect providing that the e-cigarettes themselves are not addictive).

E-cigarettes are still experimental and no one really knows the long term effects of breathing in vapour from e-cigarettes. I suspect that it will be like tobacco, and could be many years/decades to determine if the vapour is actually safe or safer than cigarettes.

I am a non-smoker, but would still not consume/inhale a e-cigarette as they have higher concentrations of toxins than the air I breath.


Hi Larry - I can’t add to the informed debate but great post :slight_smile: There seem to be a lot of people who condemn anything but ‘the full cure’ so to speak, so often in life we have to pick the best of the bad options, and speak to any cross section of people and it quickly becomes apparent that addiction can be a very different challenge from easy to seemingly impossible. Thanks for your balanced and helpful post.


Hi Larry
I am so glad you put up this post.
My husband is a 40 years smoker, He tried so many way to quite but failed them all.
He took up the vaper last year, He couldn’t be happier to use it. He did smoke when he had no vaper but immediately returned to vaping ASAP.
After one year, he claims to feel amazing improvement in his health, he can now walk 20ks fast with no puffing.
He is no longer addictive to nicotine and we’re all so happy, we thought he would never ever quite.
For the people who can’t quit other ways, isn’t it better they try this way.
I wish Australia would be proactive like the UK and take a wholistic approach.
Sometimes all or nothing isn’t the way to go.


Thanks for the responses. I apologise for the length of my posts, but as you may have gathered, this is a subject that I feel very strongly about.

@phb - I’m with you, but am still battling nicotine addiction so while it might not be the best idea to inhale vapour, I’ll take it as I will not smoke cigarettes anymore and I know from experience that ‘traditional’ nicotine replacement therapies do not work for me. This gives me an alternative, and a pleasant one! (Much to the disgust of anti-smoking zealots!). Now to cut down the nicotine!

@robmayfield - Thanks for the encouragement, addiction is a multi-horned beast and so devious! Unfortunately, the loudest voices seem to be anti-smoking campaigners who are feeling cheated.

@magnolia-sz - Great to hear! Tell him he’s got my support. In the last two years looking into this, I have come across thousands of people who have moved over to vaping and while it’s only anecdotal, the numbers are staggering.

The UK is leading the way, both in vaping and the fight for it to gain acceptance.
In the UK the number of e-cigarette users – also known as ‘vapers’ – tripled from 700,000 to 2.1million between 2012 and 2014, according to charity Action on Smoking and Health.
Meanwhile, the number of smokers has fallen from almost a quarter of adults in 2007 to 18 per cent – around 10million people – now, the research service Smoking in England reports.
An article published in the British Medical Journal, concluded that for every million smokers in the United Kingdom who turned to e-cigarettes, 6,000 premature deaths would be prevented each year - which would have a huge impact on public health, let alone NHS budgets.

How can vaping be objected to when it has the potential to save that many lives? And you are correct, “Sometimes all or nothing isn’t the way to go.”.

I follow the research carefully and so far there is no evidence of harmful chemicals if the tests and measurements are realistic. A recent study of all available vaping studies came to these key conclusions, among others.

Peering through the mist: systematic review of what the chemistry of contaminants in electronic cigarettes tells us about health risks


• Even when compared to workplace standards for involuntary exposures, and using several conservative (erring on the side of caution) assumptions, the exposures from using e-cigarettes fall well below the threshold for concern for compounds with known toxicity. That is, even ignoring the benefits of e-cigarette use and the fact that the exposure is actively chosen, and even comparing to the levels that are considered unacceptable to people who are not benefiting from the exposure and do not want it, the exposures would not generate concern or call for remedial action.

• Expressed concerns about nicotine only apply to vapers who do not wish to consume it; a voluntary (indeed, intentional) exposure is very different from a contaminant.

• There is no serious concern about the contaminants such as volatile organic compounds (formaldehyde, acrolein, etc.) in the liquid or produced by heating. While these contaminants are present, they have been detected at problematic levels only in a few studies that apparently were based on unrealistic levels of heating.

• The frequently stated concern about contamination of the liquid by a nontrivial quantity of ethylene glycol or diethylene glycol remains based on a single sample of an early-technology product (and even this did not rise to the level of health concern) and has not been replicated.

• Tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNA) are present in trace quantities and pose no more (likely much less) threat to health than TSNAs from modern smokeless tobacco products, which cause no measurable risk for cancer.

• Contamination by metals is shown to be at similarly trivial levels that pose no health risk, and the alarmist claims about such contamination are based on unrealistic assumptions about the molecular form of these elements.

• The only unintentional exposures (i.e., not the nicotine) that seem to rise to the level that they are worth further research are the carrier chemicals themselves, propylene glycol and glycerine. This exposure is not known to cause health problems, but the magnitude of the exposure is novel and thus is at the levels for concern based on the lack of reassuring data.

Thanks all! B)

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See the Choice article on e-cigarettes, where we present arguments and evidence for and against. Our main concern is that they’re not 100% ‘safe’, and kids and non-smokers shouldn’t take up vaping thinking that it is completely harmless.


Agree 100%, my enthusiasm is for existing smokers. Like many other products, this should only be able to be purchased by adults and advertising/packaging should not be designed to attract the younger market.
Most vaping advocates also share the same view.


If you would like a refresher on the reputable science of this topic, watch these videos:

This is interesting because so far my only experience of vapers has been in Indonesia. I continually tell my friends there about the hazards of smoking, so am no advocate of either practice.

I find a cafe with several regular smokers is certainly not pleasant, though the smell - both from the cigarettes and from body odour - is not as bad as from Aus cigarettes.
However if just one or two vapes are in use, they produce such clouds of thick, acrid smoke that it can block the view of someone sitting nearby - so that staying in the same room is unbearable for me, with difficulty breathing and itchy eyes.

Perhaps there are different products available in different countries?


You have highly influenced me to try the vape. Any recommendations as to what one I should try? I know very little about buying them in Australia.

Confused about whether e-cigarettes are safe or dangerous?

You will be after reading this assortment of conflicting articles.



Well you can immediately rule out the two Mail articles as fake news :stuck_out_tongue:

Looks like e-cigarettes are dangerous in one way. Explosions.

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A gory death always makes the headlines. There all are manner of things that will kill us if we don’t use them according to the manufacturers instructions or good common sense, medicines, motor vehicles, crossing the street, lots of things. Little while back a phone could kill you and burn down your house.

Vapes either have a replaceable battery or one built in. 99%* of vape devices are regulated electronically while 1%* are known as unregulated mods or mechanical mod or just mod which come with warnings that incorrect settings can and will explode or ignite the battery. Depends on what he was using and if doing it correctly but the other death cited in the story was a mechanical mod.

Either one and either way, a lot of things you keep close to your body have powerful batteries in them and because you want longer life out of your devices the manufacturers keep pushing the capacity. This isn’t like a AA battery, take any charged phone, pad, laptop or vape battery and short circuit it and you’ll soon have a reasonable conflagration. How it’s done helps determine a slow sizzle or explosive failure.

You’re more likely to be killed in your car or because of your dog.

  • Estimates are my own and totally made up but mech mods are rare or sometimes homemade/kludged from old devices.

Another article regarding the dangers of e-cigarettes following the death of a toddler in Victoria.

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First reported death in the US due to vaping…

It is also interesting to note…‘193 people in 22 states had contracted severe respiratory illnesses after vaping.’

It appears that the real world vaping ‘experiment’ which has been going on for a few years, indicates that it may not be as risk free as first thought.


Several articles regarding the dangers of vaping.


@BrendanMays, I wonder if Choice should be updating their website article on vaping…

to reflect some of the more recent information about potential dangers. While there may be more research which need to be undertaken, it may be cognoscente of Choice to update their webpage with some of this information.


As they use glycerine & propylene glycol to be the carriers/solvents of the flavours in the vaping liquid (this is the “smoke” cloud you see when someone breathes out the cloud), it does not totally suprise me that they have lipid loaded macrophages in their testing/pathology results. Some of the glycerine & propylene glycol must condense on tissues in the respiratory tract and lungs during the inhale and expire cycle.


An article regarding the deceptive and misleading conduct of JUUL.