Is vaping a safe, effective way to quit smoking?

VIDEO: Is vaping a safe, effective way to quit smoking?

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - There was a time Dallie Thomas didn’t have to bundle up and go outside on cold and blustery days.

Thomas had quit smoking for vaping. However, Thomas is braving the elements once again with a cigarette in hand.

“I thought it might have been a good alternative to quit smoking, because you know, this smell, the smoke was bugging me...and the effects it has on my lungs also,” said Thomas.

His quest for less nicotine actually led him back to cigarettes.

“The vaping, I feel like I was getting even more nicotine than I was smoking,” said Thomas. “Vaping was always right there beside me. It seemed like I was doing it every other minute other than just having a smoke every other hour.”

Thomas’ concerns about vaping and nicotine levels carry into the medical community.

Researchers at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center were just awarded a grant of over $3 million to examine the impact of nicotine concentrations in cigarettes and vape products.

Their earlier clinical findings suggest chronic e-cigarette exposure promotes inflammation in the brain’s blood vessels which increases the risk for stroke, much like traditional cigarettes.

“Vaping is not a safe alternative for the means,” said Luca Cucullo, PhD. “Maybe it could be considered a safe alternative for a chronic smoker who cannot quit at all. But I don’t think it’s a tool to help you quit smoking at all.”

Years of studies paint a clear picture of nicotine as highly addictive.

However, as e-cigarettes evolve, keeping track of how much nicotine they deliver is a constant challenge.

“It’s ongoing," said Tobacco Treatment Specialist Sharri Miller. “So the scary part is that we do know some things. With my studies at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, they have revealed this year there are 10 things in certain vaping products that do cause cancer. And so in this cancer world, we’re concerned for that.”

“What do we not know about the product? What will we know in the future? It’s scary to think that what we’re doing is harming ourselves or causing, inflicting things that can happen. It’s just uncertain right now how much is available in that product to cause us harm,” said Miller.

Research into the health risks posed by smoking and vaping will continue for years to come, but Thomas has already made up his mind - his process to quit smoking will not involve vaping.

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