Woman, 25, left struggling to breathe and climb one flight of stairs after three years of vaping

A 25-year-old woman suffered “coughing fits” every day because of her vaping addiction

A woman was left struggling to climb a single flight of stairs and had difficulty breathing while she was addicted to vaping.

Samantha, 25, was a smoker for seven years before deciding to switch to vaping, believing she was “making a healthy choice”.

After vaping for three years, Samantha has since given up the habit because of the side effects, which included suffering coughing fits “once or twice a day”.

The 25-year-old from New Zealand admitted she only became aware of the negative effects of vaping when she began to experience symptoms and got more involved in online vaping communities

Speaking to NationalWorld, she said: “I felt very suffocated by my vape - it was literally always in my hand, the first thing I did when I woke up and the last thing I did before I went to sleep.

“Yes, I had a nicotine addiction but it was a very different kind of addiction than cigarettes and one that felt significantly worse because of how portable it was.

“Since quitting, I’ve noticed the health effects that vaping was having on me. I haven’t had a single coughing fit since quitting, and can definitely breathe a lot deeper.”

Samantha said before she started vaping, she was smoking cigarettes “about 30 a week at the time” and was “intrigued by the novelty” of seeing others vape.

She explained: “I wasn’t really looking to quit but thought it would be nice if my nicotine addiction could be satisfied in a healthier way, you know? So I did some research and bought a vape online.

“I had an understanding that inhaling a substance every couple of minutes is probably not great for me but all of the government messaging minimised the effects of vaping as they were encouraging people to quit smoking and transition to vapes - so I truly believed I was making a healthy choice.”

Since quitting, Samantha said she has noticed a big impact on her mental health and feels much more “content”.

“Almost everyone who has quit says the same thing - being more content with just sitting around and doing nothing because I could always take a hit of a vape and flood my brain with nicotine,” she said. “Why do the hard stuff like exercising, reading a book, or meditating, or self-improvement when I could sit around, push a button and feel good?

“Quitting opened those doors and forced me to confront those issues head on - if I’m bored, I need to do something to make myself feel entertained. It almost ‘flipped a switch’ in my brain so that I began being able to manage other issues in my life other than nicotine addiction.”

‘Vapes should only be used to help people quit smoking’

A professor of Toxicology at Imperial College London said the use of vapes should be controlled “for public health” and “should only be used to help people quit smoking”.

Alan Boobis told NationalWorld: “It has been argued that vaping is a gateway to cigarette smoking. The evidence is against this.

“The addictive substance in cigarette tobacco is nicotine, but habitation is reinforced by a number of other factors, only some of which are replicated in vaping. Hence, it could be that vaping is less addictive, which paradoxically, might not be ideal if the objective is to persuade a smoker to switch to something that is less harmful, whilst providing an adequate level of nicotine.”

Dr Boobis said the nicotine from vaping may have short-term effects on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, particularly in children and adolescents, but “longer term, the effects on health are less apparent.”

He added: “There may also be irritation of the airways both from nicotine and other constituents in the vapour. The evidence to date suggests that in the medium-term (about 5 years) there is no great harm, other than addiction to nicotine.

“Beyond 10 years, we just have no information in users, though based on what we know from the toxicology of the components, substantial effects are not expected. But surveillance studies will be necessary to confirm this.

“Based on what is present in the e-cigarette and the vapour, experimental studies of the constituents and of the vapour, and studies of both biomarkers and effects in humans, e-cigarettes have fewer health risks than conventional cigarettes.”

Hazel Cheeseman, deputy chief executive at Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), also said “there is little evidence on what the long term health impacts of vaping might be”, but “evidence reviews conclude that any risk to health will be substantially lower than smoking.”

Dan Marchant, director at the UK’s largest vaping retailer Vape Club, agreed that the health risks from vaping are much lower compared to smoking cigarettes, adding that vaping “often gets lumped” with the tobacco industry “because of the nicotine content”.

He said: “This is completely false and takes away from some of the public health benefits these products create. According to Public Health England, vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and the NHS is even taking steps to allow smokers to get e-cigarettes on prescription – because they’re so helpful for quitters.”

Vaping is considered to be substantially less harmful than smoking, according to researchers at King’s College London, who conducted a major review of nicotine products.

The researchers said smokers who switched to vaping would experience a “substantial reduction” in their exposure to toxic substances that cause cancer, lung and cardiovascular disease - but they still strongly urged non-smokers not to take up either habit.

According to the King’s College report vaping has increased amongst the younger generation, from 4.8% in 2019 to 8.6% in 2022. The authors are calling for better law enforcement to tackle the increase among young people using disposable vapes.

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