This seems to be a hot topic in recent debates around the health and safety risks when choosing between smoking and vaping. Not a lot of research has been done comparing the two, and since vaping is a fairly new trend the effects of long term use are also not clear. But there is certainly a comparison to be made between the two when it comes to health and cost.
Let’s focus on health; which is the number one reason many smokers decide to trade in their cigarettes for the electronic variety.
For many years studies have been done on the harmful effects of smoking and the risk factors involved. Smoking can directly cause and contribute to three major health risks; cancer, lung and heart disease. These are the three most common risks for long term smokers as well as the majority of smoke related fatalities in the US each year.
If we further break down how smoking attributes to each of these, we can examine whether a vaporizer possese the same risk factor. First of all, smoking can cause many different forms of cancer with lung cancer being the most common. It has been proven that the nicotine found in cigarettes is not responsible for cancer growth, but the combustion of tobacco creates a sticky tar filled with chemicals and carcinogens. This tar coats delicate parts of the lungs which over time causes tumor growth. The tumor cells can then also be carried through the blood stream to infect other organs and even the blood itself. This in itself means that vaping does not pose the same risk, as no tobacco is not combusted during the vaping process.
When it comes to heart disease, around one third of all heart disease deaths in the US each year is caused by smoking. Again, the nicotine found in cigarette smoke is not a primary cause of heart disease but other chemicals found in smoke are to blame. The most dangerous perhaps being carbon monoxide is not found in e-cigarettes or vapes. Another big culprit is the buildup of plaque in blood vessels that smoking causes due to the chemical components contained in the smoke. This in turn can thicken the vessels and damage the cells, reducing oxygen in the cells and causing blood clots to form. Some of the more harmful compounds found in tobacco can also be found in vapor, but at such low quantities that it cannot be deemed harmful.
Lung disease is another major health risk for smokers and perhaps the scariest. Any asthma sufferer can attest to the powerless and terrifying sensation of not being able to breathe. By smoking, you breathe particulates and gasses into your lungs and since your organs are prone to fight off foreign substances, the lungs build up mucus to try to protect itself from the combustion products. Over time the lungs become overwhelmed with the mucus buildup and eventually this causes congestion and damage, causing the lungs to lose their basic function. Oxygen now cannot flow freely into the lungs and the lung disease sufferer has to strain in order to get any oxygen into their system. When vaping, the combustion products aren’t present in the vapor and air can flow more freely. Although not enough research has been done, there has been some evidence that vaping might actually be able to reverse the harmful effects of smoking.
Another large concern that smokers face is the risk of smoking while pregnant. The greatest risks posed to pregnant women who smoke is the reduction of oxygen carried in the blood that could potentially cause miscarriage. The harmful carcinogens produced during the combustion of tobacco can also cause premature delivery, stillbirth, ectopic pregnancy and cleft lip in the child. A professor in the UK actually advocates for the use of e-cigs and vaporizers during pregnancy, claiming that the nicotine found in the vapor is harmless to the child and using nicotine during pregnancy without smoking is the safer alternative.
Obviously everything in life comes with some side effects and vaping has some of its own. Dehydration being the most common when vaping also occurs during smoking, although not as prevalent. As with smoking, a vapor may also experience some nicotine side effects which is common when your body is not used to it or the amount inhaled. Nicotine also aides with weight loss and/or management. Sensitivities or allergies is another side effect since the flavorings are often made with real food ingredients, so vapers are urged to always be aware of the ingredients in the liquids they purchase.
With all this being said, if there ever was even the slightest doubt, one can now certainly deduct that vaping is the lesser of two evils!