What is there to know?
The World No Tobacco Day is coming up (May 31!) and many people are unfamiliar with vape pens, both those that contain CBD and those that do not. So what is there to know? Let’s dive into the information so that we can both make the best decisions for ourselves, and so that we can inform other people around us who may not know about the nuances of nicotine, tobacco, and vapes.
This is likely the most well-known product containing nicotine. Whether chewed or smoked (we are going to be focusing on the smoking aspect here), tobacco contains nicotine. But what is nicotine?
What Is Nicotine & What Does It Do In The Human Body?
Nicotine is a chemical and stimulant that is naturally produced by plants in the nightshade (Solanaceae) family. You probably know more plants from this family than you think: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, bell peppers (and yes, tobacco). So why is this important? All the plants in this family contain nicotine. That homemade spaghetti sauce that everyone raved about had nicotine in it. But how much? A near negligible amount. This is where the key difference between tobacco and other plants in the nightshade family lies. While the amount of nicotine in a tomato is around 20 – 70 millionths of a percent of weight, tobacco contains 0.3 – 6 percent nicotine. To write that out would look like this: 0.3-6% vs. 0.0000002 – 0.0000007%. See the difference?
That was a lot of info (and a lot of zeroes), but I didn’t even cover why nicotine is bad, did I?
Its role in plants is as an antiherbivore. This means that the plants produce it to ward off animals and bugs that would otherwise eat up their leaves and seeds. For a while, nicotine was used as an insecticide.
But what does it do in humans (and why should you steer clear of it, if possible?) While this is likely old news for many of us, nicotine has many negative health effects such as: physical and psychological dependency (both your brain and body become addicted), raised heart-rate, potential teratogenic effects (this means that it can cause congenital, or birth, defects), and mood and sleep can be impacted.
Is Conventional Vaping Healthy?
You get it. Smoking cigarettes is bad for your health (and nicotine doesn’t sound too nice, either!). What about conventional vapes? I’m not talking about CBD vape pens yet, but rather about Juul, Blu, and a myriad of other E-cigarettes that currently are available on the market. While these alternatives to cigarettes claim to offer a smoking experience without many harmful chemicals (which is correct), they are still based on nicotine. You know, the nicotine that we just talked about (the one with all the negative side-effects). Is it better than smoking tobacco? Perhaps. But it is better in the same way that getting into a car accident while going 30 mph is better than getting into a car accident while going 70 mph. Neither is a great option.
And it’s not just harmful; it’s addictive. As addictive as tobacco smoking? Yep. In some ways, it could be considered more addictive than smoking tobacco. Why is that? Flavor. Whereas before, getting into chain-smoking had a taste barrier (a lot of people find the taste of smoke off-putting), now, that barrier has been removed by vapes and E-cigarettes. Nicotine no longer has to taste like smoke, but instead can taste like bubblegum, grape, even dill pickles (I’m not kidding). Nicotine has never been more seductive. That’s why it’s been a recent legislative target – many of these flavors have been banned, manufacturers are under siege, and the legal age to buy them is now 21 across the U.S.
Are Nicotine-Free Vapes Better For You?
While most E-cigarettes contain nicotine, there are some brands that tout their nicotine-free qualities. Are these better for you? Yes and no. While these options do not contain nicotine (and thus avoid the negative side effects and addictive qualities), there are risks due to their reliance on artificial chemicals for flavoring.
But why are flavoring chemicals a problem? Your body can deal with inhaling some particles, but it is not designed to handle the inhalation of large quantities of inorganic compounds. It isn’t the water vapor in a vape that causes problems, but rather the heated chemicals that are used to flavor them.
These nicotine-free options can also cause irritation in the mouth and throat for some people. Studies have found that consistent, habitual use can lead to soreness and irritation in the throat and mouth (due to chemical residues from flavoring).
What about CBD Vapes?
I’ve ragged on tobacco smoking and nicotine-based vapes now (something that isn’t hard to do). What about CBD vapes? Are they right for everyone? Nope. Do they have a place in the CBD market? We believe they do.
CBD vapes don’t contain nicotine, which is one of the best things about them. Some of them may contain flavoring agents, which means that they have the potential to irritate the mouth or throat if used excessively. However, as they contain CBD oil (which is heated and inhaled as a vapor), the inflammation associated with irritants may be counteracted by CBD’s properties.
CBD vapes shouldn’t be treated as candy, or as something to take habitually. For former smokers, CBD vapes could be an alternative to nicotine-based vapes (due to their lack of nicotine), and could also serve as a slightly better alternative to nicotine-free E-cigarettes (that still contain significant numbers of chemicals). For a majority of people, however, they should be treated as what they are: a boost of CBD that you may need upon occasion.
Why vape CBD in the first place?
There are lots of reasons that people turn to smoking and vaping and there are lots of reasons that people turn to CBD. When people incorporate cannabinoids into their life, it is often for the big 3- pain, nausea, and anxiety/mood stabilization. There are lots of different mechanisms to deliver this compound, vaping being one of them. Again, we believe everything in moderation. We wouldn’t encourage vape to be someone’s sole source of CBD. The advantage of vaping CBD compared to ingesting it with the traditional tincture or capsule is the activation time. The respiratory system is much faster to respond as there is no wait time for digestion. Individuals may find benefit within 15 minutes as compared to the 1-3 hours that our bodies can take to break down and put those cannabinoids to use. Vaping CBD can be a great way to receive relief when having situational anxiety or help manage a shooting pain in the moment.
World No Tobacco Day
Don’t just think about this on May 31st. Talk to your friends and family members anytime about how nicotine is addictive, can lead to negative side effects, and how (if they are addicted to tobacco or nicotine-based products) there are alternatives.