Vaping is commonly touted as a safer alternative to smoking. While it's obvious that inhaling vapor is better for your lungs than inhaling smoke, are the health benefits of vaping versus smoking all they're cracked up to be? We've compiled all the evidence you'll need to make an informed decision.
Vaping Is on the Rise
There's no doubt that vaping is becoming more and more popular every year. According to a recent study, nearly 7 percent of adults vape regularly, and vaping is incredibly popular among school-age kids. With the increasing prevalence of vaping in mind, it's important to fully examine the health benefits and risks of this alternative to smoking.
Vaping vs. Smoking: What's Left in Your System?
One of the worst aspects of smoking is the fact that this habit dumps tons of carcinogenic or otherwise toxic substances into your system. In a groundbreaking 2018 study, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people who vape end up with greatly reduced concentrations of harmful chemicals in their system versus people who smoke.
Keep in mind, however, that the benefits of vaping versus smoking only take effect if you stick to vaping. If you want to be healthier by vaping instead of smoking, don't be like the more than half of vapers who both vape and smoke.
Overall Benefits of Vaping vs. Smoking
Let's be clear: No physician in his or her right mind will directly recommend vaping. While nicotine is a pleasant and relatively harmless stimulant, it's still somewhat harmful no matter how you ingest it. If you simply have to use nicotine, however, it's abundantly clear that vaping is much better for you than smoking.
In fact, the Royal College of Physicians in the UK had the following to say about vaping versus smoking in 2016: "[T]he hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco." In layman's terms, these findings mean that vaping is 20 times better for you than smoking.
The benefits of vaping versus smoking are so profound that Public Health England even came out with a strongly-worded statement in 2015 directly recommending that smokers switch to vaping to protect their health.
Why Is Vaping Better than Smoking?
Take a step back and think about it: On its head, does it seem that vaping or smoking would be better for you? Cigarettes contain plant matter, which turns into tiny incinerated particles called "smoke" when you set it on fire. This smoke contains tar, industrial chemicals, and a variety of other types of harmful compounds that stick to your mouth, throat, and lungs while entering your bloodstream and passing on to every part of your body.
Vape juice, on the other hand, is a liquid that vaporizes instead of incinerates. Therefore, your body doesn't come in contact with any burnt plant matter when you vape, and many of the carcinogens and tar contained in cigarettes aren't present in vape juice. However, vape juice does contain the same or higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes, which makes vaping the safer and more efficient method for getting your daily nicotine fix.
Can Vaping Help You Quit Smoking?
Since vape juice contains nicotine, there's a small chance that vape pens can serve as "gateway drugs" that encourage young people to smoke cigarettes. However, most users find vaping to be more pleasant than smoking, and even a cursory glance at the available data is enough to convince most people who vape that there's no reason to switch to smoking.
On the contrary, vaping can even help you quit smoking. The rise of vaping has led to the development of a new method for helping people stop smoking: nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). The idea behind NRT is that replacing the nicotine in cigarettes with the nicotine in vape juice can help nicotine addicts satisfy their chemical dependencies without ingesting the harmful carcinogens contained in cigarettes.
Vaping vs. Smoking: The Bottom Line
In the last few years, there have been a number of sensationalized reports stating as fact that vaping is harmful. However, Public Health England found that these reports were inaccurate. This health agency had the following to say regarding its final findings on the subject of vaping: "While vaping may not be 100% safe, most of the chemicals causing
smoking-related disease are absent and the chemicals that are present pose limited
It's important to remember that nicotine is harmful to your heart health no matter how you ingest this chemical. However, a 2016 study found that vaping does not contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease unless you already have heart problems. If you already have cardiovascular disease and you want to quit smoking to protect your heart health, vaping might be the right way to go.
While there aren't a lot of data on this subject at present, it's clear that many smokers have used vaping as a method to quit smoking. The levels of nicotine in cigarettes are fixed, but you can alter the nicotine levels in vape juice and gradually decrease your nicotine intake. In summation, vaping is far less harmful to your health than smoking, and choosing vape juice over cigarettes may help you kick nicotine altogether.