Smoking vs. Vaping – Which is the Lesser of Two Evils?

So you have heard the buzz about the e-cigarettes and are excited about quitting cigarettes and giving vaping a try, right? However, before you jump straight in and join the vaping team, it is vital that you thoroughly examine the facts.

A Comparison of Smoking and Vaping

Vaping: The Facts

Vaping is still pretty new to the market, only having been around for about a decade or so. Since it hasn’t been part of the public as much as cigarette smoking, there’s a lot that people don’t know about it. Here, several aspects regarding the two habits smoking vs. vaping will be discussed to help you understand how they are similar or different.

This is one of the biggest questions throughout the vaping and smoking community. Previously, left unanswered due to the lack of research and statistics on the topic. Much has changed in the recent years, with many well-known researchers releasing papers on the subject to shed some light on the theories of others.

There are many aspects to be taken into consideration when making the comparison between vaping and smoking.

Smoking vs. Vaping: The Chemicals

Whether you’re taking combusted smoke into your lungs or vapor, there are going to be some quite serious health implications that come along with it. The health implications of smoking are a lot more defined and outlined then with vaping in the long term. Here’s a summary of the most common health implications found by researchers for both smoking and vaping.

Smoking and its Chemicals

The process of smoking includes the combustion of tobacco which includes thousands of chemicals, 20+ of which have a strong connection to causing cancer. We can always reference each of the 20+ chemicals by a single name “carcinogens.” because trying to list out 20+ chemical names just takes to long. However, here are just a few of the chemicals that we can consider carcinogens:

  • Nicotine – The addictive chemical, gives the user the desire to want more. When people say they’re addicted to smoking, they’re addicted to nicotine.
  • Hydrogen Cyanide
  • Formaldehyde
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Ammonia
  • Benzene
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Nitrosamines
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

As mentioned above, many of the chemicals have a strong connection to some leading health conditions, including; cancer, heart disease and lung disease. You will not find these chemical elements during the process of creating a cigarette. The combustion of the tobacco leaf starts the process of chemical reactions, which in turn creates smoke that is full of the previously mentioned carcinogens.(Cancer.org, 2017).

Vaping and its Chemicals

The main process of vaping removes the need to combust anything, removing a handful of the harmless chemicals listed above. Studies on the vapor produced from vaping suggest there is a significant difference between the number of carcinogens found compared to cigarette smoke. With over 20+ chemicals found in cigarette smoke compared to only a few in the vapor. Here are just a few of the chemicals found in vapor:

  • Nicotine – The addictive chemical, gives the user the desire to want more. When people say they’re addicted to smoking, they’re addicted to nicotine.
  • Propylene Glycol (Vegetable oil)
  • Vegetable Glycerol
  • Acetaldehyde
  • Nitrosamines

Any other chemicals found are mostly related to the process of flavoring. Many of which are found to be food grade and typically safe to consume. This sends us on a path to ask the biggest question in an area which research is not yet available. Overall, these flavorings are designed to be ingested and not vaporized. That leads us to a gray area so far. The long-term effects are just not known.(Ecigalternative.com, 2017).

Exploring Health and Safety

Everything so far concerns the broader image of health and safety, not just health conditions. Comparing some of the stories and past experiences with smoking and vaping, which one is the safest habit to have around in your day to day life?

Smoking and Safety

For many years, smoking has caused incredible health and safety concerns throughout the world. Because of this, legislations have been put in place to help prevent some of the more serious risks. By far the most common health and safety concern for smoking is risks concerning smoking-material fires:

Material Fires

A report by John R. Hall, Jr named “The Smoking-Material Fire Problem” (Hall, 2017), outlined some incredibly surprising statistics on this subject. “In 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 90,000 smoking-material fires in the U.S.” It’s estimated that a total of 540 people died as a result to these incidents, with 1,640 injuries and a total of $621 million in direct property damage.Between 1980 and 2011, there has been a decrease of around 73% in the amount of smoking-material fires. This is thought to have been a result of standards and regulations put in place for the fire-proof standards of mattresses and furniture. Also, more recently cigarettes have adopted more “fire-safe” requirements, ensuring the risk is much less.As mentioned above, “fire-safe” requirements were put into place for cigarettes in 2003, seeing a 30% decrease in smoking-material fires in the US throughout 2003-2011. Determined by ASTM Standard E2187-04, the strength of the ignition or ember in cigarettes had to be reduced, ensuring dropped cigarettes would not combust anything else. Alongside this, in 2007 the smoke-free legislation was introduced in England banning smoking in most enclosed work and public places.

Vaping and Safety

Compared to smoking, the studies suggest that vaping has a significantly lower level of health and safety risks. However, it has still seen its problems. E-Cigarettes have had problems with their batteries exploding, which as you can expect causes extreme health and safety concerns:

Exploding Batteries

The release of E-Cigarettes in 2007 saw a huge issue with the batteries exploding. Although unclear on what the main cause of this issue was, research papers and reports suggest that over-charging the device and sub-par batteries played a big part in the explosion. The website ecigone.com has created a  comprehensive list, compiling all known explosions throughout the history of vaping. The list provides some extremely useful data analysis on exploding e-cigs. (Staff, 2017).

Since the launch in 2007, they found a total of 243 reported e-cigarette explosions:

  • 63 explosions during use.
  • 84 explosions during charging.
  • 52 explosions during transport, storage or unknown circumstances.
  • 44 explosions involving spare batteries for mods.

Of the 243 incidents, 158 resulted in personal injuries.

It is thought that most explosions occurring before 2015 involved no injuries. However, due to the dramatic increase of battery size in the recent years, it is assumed that injuries from explosions will be far greater than ever before. All in all, there has been significant advances in the health and safety control of batteries and devices ensuring you are far less likely to come across an issue when used, stored and traveling with under the correct conditions.

Smoking vs. Vaping: Cost Implications

The cost of use is one of the main factors for anyone using vaporizers or cigarettes. With vaping having a much larger initial cost to purchase the hardware, it is often seen as the more “expensive” option out of the two. In the bigger picture, this is far from the truth. There are plenty of papers and statistics available to find out the cost of smoking. However, this will heavily depend on the amount you smoke per day. Research by Tobacco Control (Control, 2017) found that throughout a single day the average cigarette intake is around 5:

  • Smoking – A pack of 20 cigarettes costs around $13 in New York. We can assume that give or take, the average smoker will purchase 5 packs a week($65) adding up to around $260 a month or $3120 a year (and pack-a-day smoker will spend even more – $4368, not counting the health-related costs and increased insurance prices).
  • Vaping – To purchase an e-cigarette starter kit that will last at least a year, you would have to spend around $50, this is the most expensive part of vaping. Once you’ve purchased a vape starter kit, you can expect to spend around $15 per week for a bottle of juice (if you vape a lot), $60 a month or $720 a year.

From the calculations above, you can clearly see that vaping is a much cheaper. You have a lot more control over the juice you’re using with your vaporizer, having the ability to have 1 or 2 puffs whenever you need it. However, with vaporizers being a lot more accessible, it’s been found that smokers transitioning to vaping will vape a lot more than they smoked.

Smoking vs. Vaping: Which One?

There’s an ongoing debate on whether vaping is safe or not.

According to a report sponsored by UK’s Department of Health and published by Public Health England – a prestigious group of highly qualified scientists, researchers, and public health professionals – electronic cigarettes are at least 95 percent safer than tobacco cigarettes. The report also recognizes their potential as a viable approach to quitting smoking.

In the US, however, electronic cigarettes are looked upon nearly as evil a product as tobacco cigarettes. Quite interestingly, the American Heart Association (AHA) took a rather cautious stance in contrary to popular belief in the country. In the 20-page statement published in 2014, the AHA suggested that e-cigs are less hazardous than tobacco cigarettes, and vaping can actually help smokers quit. Here’s a small section copied from the report:

“E-cigarettes either do not contain or have lower levels of several tobacco-derived harmful and potentially harmful constituents compared with cigarettes and smokeless tobacco… [e-cigarettes] present an opportunity for harm reduction if smokers use them as substitutes for cigarettes.”

Don’t Find Yourself on the Wrong Side of the Law

Legal issues are where the debate over vaping and smoking heats up. Cigarette smoking has been increasingly prohibited in public spaces, first in airlines, then in government buildings, and now almost universally indoors or too close to buildings. Some countries have looser restrictions than others, but mostly you’ll have to smoke in a designated area while in public places or just wait until you get home.

Conclusion

When comparing vaping and smoking, there are many different aspects to take into consideration. In the bigger picture, the only thing throwing a little bit of shade on vaping is the long-term effects, something that only time can unveil.

19 Comments

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  2. I went from smoking almost 2 packs of cigarettes a day for over 20 years to vaping.. Within two weeks I had completley quit smoking.. I vape off and on throughout the day. My cravings have lessend ALOT and with that the amount of vaping I do daily has lessend ALOT.. So YES ABOSOLUTELY WITH THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT AND THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF NICOTINE YOU ABSOLUTELY CAN QUIT SMOKING. AND SAVE ALOT OF MONEY EVERY YEAR. But do your research on any “starter kit” Mod, or tank BEFORE buying. They have different Mods, Tanks and Kits, They are NOT ALL THE SAME! But if you do your research you can find a kit or build a vape kit that fits your personal needs.

  3. I failed to mention cost in my original comment. I have been spending right at $15 per day (that’s ~$5500 a year) for cigarettes over the past 42 years. Now I’m down to $20 a week ($1040 a year) during my phase-out period and I’m rapidly decreasing the need for any nicotine until I reach my goal of zero on Christmas Day, 2017. Vaping has changed my need for smoking and I’ve already gone a couple of days with no vaping (due to my losing the damn thing!) at all. Regardless, the urge to smoke a cigarette is way in the past so I know I’m on the right path 🙂

  4. Hi, my friends continually vap. From the minute they get up to the minute they go to bed. And if there was a way to smoke while sleeping I’m sure they would buy into that as well.

    This article implies, that in the short term vaping seems to be the lessor of two evils.

    But there is no firm evidence about its affects of long term health. Or pregnant women or to children who’s mother vapped her entire pregnancy. Are there studies that are monitoring these as well?

    I worry as frankly if you can’t sit and have dinner with out trying to vap by holding your breath until the white particles that are release is minimal.

    This article is pro vaping for several reasons, I can’t believe that there are no articles that haven’t been written stating the opposite, that are backed by the same quality scientific evidence.

    What it seems to me, is that someone that smoked before changing to vaping were probably chain smokers, or because of articiales such as these have become incessive vapers as have my friends.

  5. I will say this much on the subject. I quit paper cigarettes and switched to the vapor. My lungs feel better after week one. I m not binge eating like quiting can do. I dont smell bad anymore and I can use my vapor in the house so my neighbors don’t see. Its about choosing to not use paper cigarettes and taking control of my life back.

  6. I would like to throw in my two cents. I smoked for 3 years straight (not long compared to most) and just yesterday switched to universally vaping and I got to say I feel a lot “better” after a few tokes of vape than a cigarette. Cigs tend to make you feel horrible after consumption, though, in comparison, vaping just gives you that rush of nicotine we all crave. The way it gunks up your lungs isn’t the same but you still are having to cough up phlegm to be able to take better breaths. I assume that it’s all about preference, but I’m loving the way I feel about vaping rather than smoking. It’s easier on my relationship too, not having to go outside for prolonged amounts of time and coming back inside reaking of cigarette.

  7. Definitely the most truthful article to date. The battery explosions can be mostly avoided. Buy quality hardware. The costs are ridiculously low for great starter kits. Kangertech Top Box Mini is a great one battery (rechargeable) starter kit for approximately $50 or less. Ive purchased my batteries from liionwholesale.com. I have no affiliation; they test and display battery shipments to ensure authenticity. Dont be intimidated by all the options. There are numerous sites to help you choose. Choose a low cost Mod/Box to get you started. You’ll likely want to upgrade after several months. Purchase the appropriately rated battery for the use intended, buying from reputable companies and maybe most importantly understanding Ohm’s Law. Ohm’s Law is THE basic electrical principle everyone should know and understand. It can save you from serious injury (exploding meter) maybe even death. Ive vaped for a couple years now and will never smoke again (35 year smoker). My lungs and my body feels so much better; also all my possessions dont stink & turn yellow. People, vape if you can…i have no doubt my remaining life will be happier.

    • I’ve smoked for 40 years and have recently been diagnosed with serious health conditions forcing me to quit smoking. I’m considering trying vaping, but am not sure about it’s health affects?

  8. Definitely one of the truthful articles. I have been a smoker for 25 years. I used to smoke 20-25 cigs a day. I have quit smoking and have started vaping since a few months. And I see a world of a difference. Vaping is the best solution for ppl who find it difficult to quit. And as rightly said you save a lot of money. Better health. Family is happier. Buy good quality Starter Kits which would not cost you more then $50. Which in my terms is very good and consistent in giving you the same vaping results as the mods. Coils. Are of very good quality.

  9. I was very pleased to find this web-site.I wanted to thanks for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you blog post.

  10. I’ve never seen a more truthful article about vaping. I totally agree is vaping lesser evil of two. As it exposes us to lesser chemicals and is more cost-effective as the cost of buying cigarettes daily is more expensive than of vaping products. I myself prefer vaping rather than smoking.

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