Vape vs. Smoke: What Are the Facts?

Vaping has become a huge controversy, and things are heating up with the Food and Drug Administration’s flavor ban. Recent “is vaping safer than smoking commercials” have appeared that claim vaping is dangerous. But, is vaping really unhealthy?

There is a lot of evidence that points either way. While vaping is likely healthier than smoking, there still could be significant risks involved. Early studies suggest that vaping causes several adverse short term health problems.

Table of Contents

  • Which is Cheaper? Smoking or Vaping?
  • What is Inside a Vape?
  • What is Inside a Cigarette?
  • Vaping While Smoking
  • How Do E-Cigs and Smoking Affect a Person’s Health?
  • How to Quit Vaping and Cigarettes
  • Is It Better to Vape or Smoke?

Vape and Smoking Price Comparison

Vaping might seem more expensive than smoking, but it is not. People think this because of the price of mods.

According to the New Zealand Ministry of Health, a person who smokes 20 times a day will spend $9,000 in a year on cigarettes. On the other hand, vaping can cost ten times less.

Vape Components

The difference between smoking and vaping is huge, but what is vaping? There are different kinds of vapes. Generally, they consist of a battery, coils, and something to hold the nicotine juice. The battery heats the coils, which turn the liquid into vapor. There are different kinds of vapes.

  • Disposable vapes are the simplest devices on the market. They do not require refills or pods. Inhaling turns them on, and they are thrown away when depleted.
  • Other devices use refillable or disposable pods, squonk bottles, or tanks that contain e-liquid.
  • Tanks and pods have a reservoir that holds the liquid, as well as coils and cotton wicking. Squonk bottles are squeezed, which sends the liquid into the tank.

Cigarette Components

Cigarettes are rolled papers that contain dried tobacco leaves. The paper and leaves are ignited and then smoked. Many cigarettes use “reconstituted tobacco.”

This kind of tobacco consists of different parts of the tobacco plant, dust, and floor sweepings. Glue, chemicals, and fillers are later added. Nicotine extracted from the tobacco is then sprayed on the finished product.

Most cigarettes have a filter at the end, but it does not make the product more healthy.

How Many People Vape and Smoke?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 40 million Americans smoke cigarettes. A 2014 report released by the CDC claims that 3.7 percent of Americans vape, which is around 9 million people, according to census figures.

How Smoking and Vaping Affect Health

People commonly ask whether it is safer to vape or smoke. Smoking is well-known for increasing a person’s risk of contracting a variety of illnesses.

However, the long-term effects of vaping are not yet known. But, there have been studies on the short-term effects of vaping. These studies showed that vaping has some adverse short term health effects.

Health Risks of Smoking and Vaping: Vaping Facts and Fiction

Smoking causes nearly 480,000 deaths a year in the United States alone. It kills more people per year than guns, drugs, and car accidents.

More Americans have been killed by tobacco than have died in every war fought by the United States. Smoking increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, as well as cancer.

Common illnesses caused by smoking are lung cancer, coronary heart disease, and diabetes, to name a few.

Vaping is considered by many to be safer than smoking, but studies show that it is still not safe. Dr. Michael Blaha of John Hopkins said that there are fewer harmful chemicals in vapes than in cigarettes.

But, nicotine is toxic no matter the source. It can significantly increase the risk of a heart attack. New information also suggests that it increases the risk of developing lung disease and asthma.

E-cigarette use is popular among teenagers, and experts are concerned about the risk it poses. In 2010 only 2 percent of high school students admitted to trying vaping.

By 2015, 16 percent had tried it. Over 3 million students in middle school and high school tried vaping in 2015. This figure is up over half a million from 2014. Selling vapes to minors in the United States is illegal, but teenagers have no problem buying them.

They get them online instead of from physical stores. Experts say that e-cigarettes are marketed to children with flavors that mimic candy, ice cream, and varieties of food and drink.

Vaping poses a grave risk to adolescents because they are more susceptible to addiction. Their brains are still developing, and if they develop an addiction in their early years, it can be harder for them to quit the habit later in life.

Also, addiction to nicotine can make them susceptible to mental health disorders and substance abuse.

Another risk of vaping is developing a lung illness. Over the last several years, thousands of vapers have become ill using e-cigarettes. The symptoms include weight loss and breathing difficulties. Some also report suffering nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

The onset of symptoms can take a few days or weeks, with the majority of people with them being hospitalized. It is not completely clear why these illnesses occurred. One reason could be that these people consumed black market e-liquids made with questionable ingredients. Also, the illness was more common among users of THC vapes than nicotine vapes.

Health Benefits of Vaping vs. Smoking

A review published by Public Health England concluded that vaping was considerably safer than cigarettes. This review was led by Ann McNeill and Peter Hajek, two prominent British scientists.

While they admitted that e-cigarettes are not risk-free, they said that vapes are not nearly as harmful and that they have contributed to falling smoking rates among teenagers and adults.

Furthermore, they claimed that there is no evidence to suggest vaping undermines smoking cessation. They instead claimed that vapes could be an excellent smoking cessation tool.

Quitting Vaping and Tobacco

Nicotine dependence is often a result of vaping and smoking. The reason why it is so addictive is that it causes dopamine to be released by the body.

Dopamine causes the body to feel good. When the dopamine levels drop, the vaper or cigarette smoker needs to get more nicotine. There are unpleasant side effects if he or she does not get a hit off the vape or cigarette.

There are many signs of nicotine dependency. The most obvious sign is an inability to stop smoking or vaping.

Other symptoms include powerful cravings, anxiety, restlessness, and different feelings when the body does not get enough nicotine. The onset of these feelings and emotions is very unpleasant and can make quitting difficult.

Various strategies exist for quitting smoking:

  • Make a plan for cutting back and dealing with cravings
  • Consider every smoking cessation method
  • Ask a doctor for advice on quitting
  • Seek support from family, friends, and others trying to quit
  • Manage stress and avoid situations that trigger cravings

First of all, anyone who wants to quit has to know why he or she wants to quit. The reasons for quitting could be wanting to feel healthier, save money, or many other reasons.

A person should set a quit date and give him or herself plenty of time to prepare mentally for the challenges that lie ahead.

There will be cravings and intense withdrawal symptoms. The more prepared a person is to deal with withdrawal, the more likely his or her chances for success. As with smoking, build a support network that consists of family, friends, and clergymen.

Help from a physician is also necessary. The assistance of all these people significantly increases the chances of success. 

Should People Vape or Smoke?

People should do whatever they think is best. But, be aware that nicotine is highly addictive no matter the source. A person who uses vaping for smoking cessation might become addicted to e-cigarettes instead.

Vaping is likely safer than smoking tobacco, but it still might be risky. There have been no long-term studies on its health effects. It will likely take years, if not decades before researchers know how vaping affects people.

Jeffrey Buckley is an editor on VapingDaily and an active member of the vaping community.
After 25 years of smoking, he got a medical degree with a specialization in addiction counseling and treatment, which helps him support people all over the world. Almost 10 years of researching and writing in-depth vape reviews made him an expert in vaping. Check out his Twitter here:

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