Both smoking and vaping have side effects and risks. Scientists do not fully understand the long-term health effects of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) yet, but the science indicates they are not a safe alternative to smoking.
Vaping involves breathing in an aerosol that contains several chemicals, including nicotine and flavoring, through an e-cigarette or other device. Vaping is growing in popularity among teenagers.
According to the
In this article, we discuss the risks of vaping versus smoking and consider the long-term effects and risks of both.
Neither smoking nor vaping is beneficial to human health. Based on the available evidence, smoking appears more harmful than vaping. However, this does not mean that vaping is safe.
Secondhand smoke contains more than
People who vape may be at risk of harm for the following reasons:
- E-cigarettes can contain a large dose of nicotine, a substance known to slow the development of brains in fetuses, children, and teens.
- The liquid that creates the vapor is dangerous to adults and children if they swallow, inhale, or get it on their skin.
- Vaping also delivers dangerous chemicals, including diacetyl, cancer-causing chemicals, heavy metals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Vaping may normalize smoking again as it becomes more popular.
According to the
However, the CDC also acknowledges that since the removal of vitamin E acetate from vaping products, along with other harmful ingredients, the number of symptoms that people experience from vaping declined.
Learn more about the potential harm of vaping here.
Unlike vaping, which is relatively new, there are years of research to fully back up claims that smoking is damaging to human health. According to the
- damage to every organ in the body
- more than 480,000 deaths a year in the United States
- 90% of all lung cancer deaths
- about 80% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- an increased risk of death
- an increased risk of developing health conditions, such as heart disease and stroke
Smoking has many long-term adverse effects on the body. The
- reduces sperm count
- increases the risk of pregnancy loss or congenital disabilities
- increases the risk of cataracts
- impairs immune system function
- increases general inflammation
- can cause cancer in nearly any part of the body, including the lungs, kidneys, and stomach
- triggers asthma attacks
- causes blockages in the veins and arteries
- increases the risk of a stroke
Research generally accepts that while vaping can harm the lungs and other bodily systems, its impact is
However, a 2019 study into the long-term health effects of vaping found that people using e-cigarettes had a higher risk of respiratory disease than people who never smoked.
- damage the lungs
- release free radicals, which promote cancer development, into the body
- weaken the immune system
- delay brain development in fetuses, children, and teenagers
Some people also report sustaining burns when recharging e-cigarettes due to defective batteries leading to explosions.
Health services in the United Kingdom recommend that vaping can be an effective tool for quitting smoking. Additionally, in 2021, the
Using vapes to quit smoking
At the end of the survey, 28% of smokers using e-cigarettes daily had ceased smoking tobacco altogether, while 45.5% had ceased smoking tobacco daily.
However, researchers found that only daily e-cigarette use had a statistically significant effect on smoking cessation rates.
Of the participants who were not using e-cigarettes, only 5.8% had quit smoking altogether by the end of the survey, while 9.9% had stopped smoking daily.
Meanwhile, people who were smoking e-cigarettes non-daily had a 3.1% rate of quitting smoking and a 10.2% rate of cutting down to non-daily tobacco smoking.
A 2019 randomized control study also found that daily e-cigarette use leads to an almost doubled rate of smoking abstinence than other nicotine-replacement products after one year.
Addictive properties of smoking and vaping
Nicotine is highly addictive. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that around half of all smokers try to quit every year, while only 6% manage to do so.
Researchers noted that study participants using both types of cigarettes had a higher nicotine dependence in relation to e-cigarettes.
However, nicotine alone is relatively harmless, and switching from daily tobacco smoking to daily e-cigarette use can be an important step for people to stop smoking completely.
A person can use a vaping device to inhale tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the chemical in cannabis that produces a high.
According to a
As a result, vaping THC may produce a faster, stronger high, but it may also mean that people experience more adverse effects.
Vaping and smoking share similar negative effects on the body, such as damage to the lungs and increased cancer risk.
Researchers know more about the long-term effects of smoking than those of vaping. However, vaping products contain a great deal fewer harmful chemicals than cigarettes and can be an effective tool in quitting smoking altogether.
However, while vape products can reduce the amount of tar and other chemicals a person inhales, they can increase a person’s nicotine dependency.