The debate about e-liquid and e-cigarettes rages on. E-liquids are often erroneously put into the same category as traditional cigarettes and chewing tobacco in terms of both health hazards and addictive qualities. However, numerous peer reviewed studies have shown that e-liquid products have none of the cancer-causing compounds and properties of regular cigarettes. They are also far less addictive than tobacco.
While many types of e-liquid do contain nicotine, the nicotine has been extracted and purified. Since e-liquids are consumed through vaping and contain no tobacco, the hazards of combustion such as tar are eliminated.
A Big Difference Between Nicotine Products With and Without Tobacco
E-liquids do contain nicotine just like tobacco-based products, but without the tobacco. The question remains: just how addictive is the nicotine found in e-liquids compared with products that contain tobacco?
Many users report that the “drive” or “need” for e-liquids and e-cigarettes is much less than the addictive urge felt with traditional cigarettes. The body’s response to nicotine has been compared with its response to caffeine. While many people do crave the caffeine in coffee, soda and energy drinks and choose to drink them every day, in most cases this would not qualify as a dangerous addiction.
Continuing the comparison among persons who have used both traditional cigarettes and other products containing only nicotine, most report that “something” is missing with non-tobacco products. Simply consuming nicotine does not trigger quite the same response as smoking a cigarette, and it is ultimately not as addictive. The “drive” or “need” isn’t as strong.
Nicotine patches, gum, lozenges and e-liquids are not true replacements for people who are still enmeshed in their addiction to smoking cigarettes. Some even continue to smoke while using other nicotine sources, albeit often at a reduced rate.
The logical conclusion is that there is something more to traditional cigarettes that makes them more addictive just nicotine itself. Tobacco smoking could be classified as “extremely addictive,” while nicotine products like e-liquids have a more casual effect in users, much like people who enjoy coffee. They have a preference toward it, but it does not rule their lives.
Tobacco, Additives and Ritual All Fuel Smoking Addiction
So why is smoking tobacco products more addictive than just consuming nicotine? The National Institute of Drug Addiction points to the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) present in tobacco smoke. MAOIs artificially boost serotonin levels, reducing the symptoms of both anxiety and depression. It is well known that the big tobacco companies purposefully include extra chemicals in cigarettes, with estimates ranging from 600 to 4,000. Among these are MAOIs.
It is clear why persons with anxiety, depression or another mood disorder would continue to crave more cigarettes and “chain smoke,” especially when in the throes of one or more of these issues. Additionally, even those without mood issues can become addicted to the extra artificial “hit” of the feel-good chemical serotonin. Over time, they become reliant on the cigarette instead of their own brain and body chemistry to deliver this neuropeptide, and the cycle continues.
(By the way, some of the other cigarette additives include arsenic, acetone, ammonia, formaldehyde, lead, urea and carbon monoxide.)
Addiction Often More Complex Than Just the Substance in Question
Other elements of cigarette addiction can include the physical act of pulling one out of the pack, lighting it, and taking that first drag. The human body loves habit and routine, and the “ritual” element of smoking can further strengthen its addictive effect.
Another factor is related to the calming effect of inhaling and exhaling deeply. Even while bringing smoke into the lungs, this deep breathing action has the effect of lowering blood pressure and calming the heart rate. It enhances the relaxation effect, further fueling the smoking addiction.
In conclusion, nicotine itself is no more addictive than the caffeine in coffee. While both chemicals compel many to use them, neither is linked with major health issues when used in reasonable quantities. Nicotine products like e-liquids contain none of the 68 cancer-causing chemicals of tobacco products. Do you think they belong in the same category as tobacco products?