The popularity of vaping reached an all time high after the increase in cigarette prices. Yes, indeed nicotine is a controlled substance, controlled medicine. If, it is indeed medicine, it must be used to treat something, right? Lim Kah Poh explains ..
A quick look at any medical book and you will see that nicotine containing preparations/medicines have only one “indication”. For those not in the medical line, indication means something that has been proven for that medical condition or health problem. The indication stated for every nicotine containing product is “to aid in smoking cessation”. In other words, its one and only medical use is to help smokers quit.
No doubt nicotine is and only should be available through health professionals. However, health professionals should only make nicotine containing preparations available to people who intend to quit smoking and counsel them on the method and dose at which this nicotine containing preparation should be used.
Making nicotine containing preparations available to people other than those who intend to quit smoking, is called “off label prescribing/dispensing” and as such, can be deemed a violation of the code of conduct.
Besides, at high dosages, nicotine is actually a poison that causes paralysis of the lungs. Some people who use nicotine in the form of chewing gum for smoking cessation have experienced a sore mouth as a side effect. That is why a service provider counsels a patient who chews on nicotine containing gum, to stop chewing the gum and/or to switch the gum to the other side of the jaw to minimise discomfort.
We must understand that we are indeed dealing with a substance that has the potential to cause harm to the body. We must also understand that the amount of nicotine that is absorbed into the body of the user differs when the mode of consumption differs. Yes, it means the amount of nicotine absorbed into the body when you smoke may be different from the amount of nicotine absorbed into the body when you vape, even though the amount of nicotine in the cartridge may be the same as the amount of nicotine in a cigarette stick. The presence of other substances in a vape cartridge and a cigarette stick will also add to the complication as some substances enhance absorption while others reduce it.
Is vaping safer than smoking cigarettes? Well, at this moment, we cannot really say because no study had been done comparing the ill effects of vaping and the ill effects of smoking. Cigarettes have been around for generations. Vape is just at its infant stage.
In the eyes of this pharmacist, at the very least, both are discouraged.
Lim Kah Poh is Chairman of the Community Pharmacy Chapter of the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society.
With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.