Dr. Lion Shahab is leading the charge as one of the most outspoken vapor experts and scientists in the U.K.. He is a vaper, has researched addiction and tobacco control for over 12 years, and is an ardent advocate for vaping as a cessation tool to stop smoking combustible cigarettes.
Dr. Shahab agrees with the U.K.’s health department, the National Health Service (NHS), who asserted in 2015 that e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than combustible cigarettes and believes that the drop in smoking rate experienced in the U.K. is due, in part, because of e-cigarettes.
In an interview with News-Medical Net for World Cancer Day, Dr. Shahab talked about his avocation for the Public Health England’s Smokefree ‘Health Harms’ campaign, which encourages smokers to stop smoking in the New Year. He also laid out the reasons why vaping reduces the harm incurred by combustible cigarettes.
“Tobacco contains more than 600 compounds which are turned into around 5,000, including at least 70 carcinogens, when a cigarette is lit and tobacco burnt at around 800 degrees centigrade,” Shahab said. “By comparison, e-liquids used in e-cigarettes are primarily composed of humectants, such as propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavorings which are heated to around 200 degrees centigrade.”
He then goes on to talk about the health implications around e-cigarettes, and cautions readers about the long-term effects. According to Shahab, it could take anywhere from 20-40 years to get a full picture of how health is affected exposure to e-cigarettes. He then points out that a lot of the harm reduced by e-cigarettes is because of the large number of combustion inhaled into the lungs.
“Research that others and I have conducted shows that exposure to carcinogens linked to diseases such as lung cancer are greatly reduced in vapers compared with smokers, suggesting health benefits in the long-term for those switching to e-cigarettes from cigarettes,” Shahab said. “The main harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals contained in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic.”
Dr. Shahab also has some recommendations for smokers looking to quit. He believes that the best way to quit is with smoking aids such as nicotine replacement therapy or other pharmacotherapies like varenicline, a prescription medication that blocks the pleasant effects of nicotine from getting to the brain. But if you don’t have access to that type of treatment or it hasn’t worked for you, he suggests using e-cigarettes, which he says can double your chances of smoking abstinence.
Shahab is an Associate Professor in Health Psychology at University College London and trained in psychology, epidemiology, and neuroscience. He has published over 100 scientific papers for academic and non-academic partners. So far, to the date of this writing, in 2019 he has published five articles about the socio-economics of e-cigarettes and mental health in the U.K.
The United Kingdom in one of the most progressive governments on the globe when it comes to the use of e-cigarettes. This is, in part, due to the 2015 NHS finding that e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than combustible cigarettes.
To learn more about the good doctor, here’s video of a talk from Dr. Lion Shahab delivered at the Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw, Poland from June 2018.