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‘Are e-cigarettes safer than regular cigarettes?’

‘Are e-cigarettes safer than regular cigarettes?’

Eric has quit smoking cigarettes recently, and switched to smoking tobacco-less e-cigarettes instead. He’s wondering if smoking these vaporized inhalants is a safer alternative to smoking regular cigarettes.

My advice:

Eric, I’m glad you quit smoking tobacco — that’s a great step and you’re going to be much more healthy because of it. But I’m hoping you are using the e-cigarettes as a bridge to quitting altogether. It’s true that e-cigarettes are better for your health than smoking tobacco … but that’s a little like saying  that it’s safer to hit yourself on the head with a stick instead of a sledge hammer. You’re still hurting yourself, you’re just not hurting yourself as seriously as you used to.

That’s because nicotine — which is the only thing you’re really getting when you use an e-cigarette — is still a poison. And a highly addictive poison at that. True, with an e-cigarette, you’re not getting all of the tars and heavy metals found in cigarette smoke. That’s good because those elements contribute to lung cancer, heart disease, bladder disease and even erectile dysfunction.

But nicotine is still a powerful drug that raises your risk of heart disease. This is because nicotine constricts blood vessels, and when the blood vessels are constricted, your blood pressure rises. High blood pressure, in turn, is linked to all sorts of health problems — including sexual dysfunction.

So, like I said, you’ve taken a great step — but only if you’re on the road to quitting for good. Now, I realize this is no simple task. Nicotine is more addictive than cocaine or heroin. Quitting requires an enormous amount of energy and focus. But millions of people have done it.

The best way to kick the habit is to substitute the positive experience you get from smoking, for an equally positive experience found in a healthier activity. Try drinking a lot of water and exercising when you wake up in the morning. The water will help alleviate some of the nicotine craving, while the exercise will lift your dopamine levels and give you a pleasurable experience that can help replace the chemical effects you’re used to experiencing from nicotine. By slowly changing your habits, and you’ll be able to re-program your brain to associate pleasure with activities that are actually good for you rather than being self-destructive.

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