Vaping vs. Smoking: These Are 7 Facts You Should Know

Vaping vs. Smoking: These Are 7 Facts You Should Know

It's hard to quit smoking, but will e-cigarettes be the alternative?

Almost 60% of adult smokers expressed their desire to stop smoking, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, quitting is easier said than done. Less than one out of ten smokers succeed in their efforts to quit smoking. According to data from the CDC, that’s only 7.5% out of the 21.5 million adults who attempted to stop smoking.

With the challenge of quitting seemingly insurmountable, it’s no wonder that people are turning to nearly any promising alternatives to help them succeed. One such popular alternative to smoking is vaping.

What Is Vaping?

Vaping refers to the act of inhaling vaporized liquids using electronic cigarettes and other similar tools.

E-cigarettes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and even names. Vaping enthusiasts also refer to e-cigarettes like vape pens, vapes, e-cigs, tank systems, e-hookahs, and more. Regardless of the name, these devices generally work the same way.

They heat the liquid you put inside to turn it into vapor. This allows you to easily inhale the chemicals and substances mixed into the liquid. Like e-cigarettes, these liquids also have several names, including vape liquid, vape juice, e-juice, and e-liquid.

The contents of e-liquids vary for each brand or manufacturer. Generally, though, the blend contains water, nicotine, vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, and flavorings.

Is Vaping Safe?

Yes, but only to a certain degree. The e-liquids used for vaping still contain nicotine, a highly addictive chemical. Compared to smoking, though, vaping is a safer way to introduce nicotine into your body.

When you smoke cigarettes, the nicotine you inhale comes from burning tobacco. Aside from nicotine, regular tobacco also contains thousands of other toxic chemicals. Vaping heats the nicotine in a safer manner and does not contain the same tobacco-based toxic chemicals.

However, that does not mean that vaping does not have its dangers. Vaping and using e-cigarettes can still irritate your lungs and cause a variety of adverse health effects.

Photo by Tnarg

What Are the Adverse Effects of Vaping?

E-cigarettes’ side effects are comparable to traditional or tobacco cigarettes more safely since they also contain a high amount of nicotine.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance. Research also shows that nicotine can slow down brain development, including in developing fetuses, adolescents, and young adults.

Moreover, nicotine is not the only harmful or dangerous chemical you inhale when vaping. E-cigarettes also deliver the following:

  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which cause respiratory tract irritation, headaches, fatigue, shortness of breath, and more
  • Diacetyl, which can potentially damage the cilia in your lungs and cause bronchitis
  • Carcinogens, including formaldehyde and acetaldehyde
  • Heavy metals, such as chromium, nickel, manganese, tin, and lead

Vaping also shares other common and harmful side effects with smoking. These include:

  • Lung irritation
  • Potentially fatal lung injury
  • Lung cancer
  • Brain alterations
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Weaker immune system

Like tobacco cigarettes, you can suffer from the effects of secondhand smoke produced through vaping.

Is Vaping Better Than Cigarettes?

Yes, but only marginally. Vaping contains less of the toxic chemicals you would find in tobacco cigarettes. Instead, though, they contain a different set of potentially dangerous compounds.

Additionally, research done on the long-term effects of vaping, while limited, is not very positive. Available findings suggest that vaping is not much better than cigarettes for your health. Studies have also linked e-cigarette use to an increase in emergency room visits and related deaths.

Photo by Miguel Arcanjo Saddi

Can Vaping Cause Addiction?

Yes, vaping can also cause addiction and nicotine dependence. Although the method or tool for delivery is different, the product you are putting into your lungs and your whole body remains the same.

In some cases, vaping may even be more addictive than smoking. This is because you have the option to buy extra-strength e-liquid cartridges containing more nicotine. Vape users also have the option to up the voltage of their vape pens for a stronger, greater nicotine hit.

The target audience or users is another factor for potential addiction. In 2015, a federal report showed a surge in e-cigarette or vape pen users among high school students, who are more susceptible to nicotine’s effects.

Is It Possible to Vape Without Nicotine?

Yes, it is possible. Nicotine-free e-liquids are also widely sold and used by vaping enthusiasts. This is often seen as a great alternative solution for smoking cessation as well as preventing nicotine addiction among younger vape pen users.

Unfortunately, though, nicotine-free vaping also has its downsides. Studies suggest that vaping without nicotine still has several short-term side effects. These include:

  • Irritation of the mouth and airways
  • Inflammation of the lungs or throat
  • Increased cell toxicity in the lungs and heart blood vessels

These effects are largely attributed to the other chemicals and compounds in the e-liquids and the vape pens themselves.

Can Vaping Help To Quit Smoking?

This is the million-dollar question. On one hand, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not support or officially approve the use of vaping to quit smoking. This is due to the limited studies and potential health risks that are associated with vaping.

On the other hand, you can’t discount the number of people who say that vaping helped them quit smoking. Many people across the U.S. and other countries credit their success in stopping their smoking habits with the help of vaping.

Take note, though, that while vaping offers less harmful effects than smoking, doing both at the same time is only slightly better than smoking alone.

Finding a Safer Way to Stop Smoking

Companies often market e-cigarettes and vaping as helpful tools for smoking cessation. And thanks to successful marketing, many teens and adults alike have turned to vaping to stop smoking.

True, vaping may be less harmful than smoking. It offers benefits that smoking does not. At the end of the day, though, vaping can cause similar adverse effects as smoking.

Enrolling in a smoking cessation program or trying any of the FDA-approved tools and products may be safer for your lungs and overall health.