Choosing the Lesser of the Two Evils?
Smoking vs Vaping – This is How They Impact Your Body
In the vaping vs. smoking standoff, most people believe it’s the case where the lesser of the two evils wins. But is vaping really an evil that falls in the same category as smoking? The answer becomes clear when you take look at how each of them affects human body:
In addition to tar – which is a collective term for various particles that have a wide variety of carcinogens – the smoke of tobacco cigarettes contains thousands of harmful chemicals, at least 70 of which have been proven to be cancer-causing agents. When these chemicals enter your body, they impact every organ they come in contact with, and several organs they don’t even come in direct contact with.
It’s an established fact that smoking can cause all sorts of diseases, from minor health issues like a cough to lethal disorders like lung cancer and heart diseases. In fact, smoking tobacco is the biggest avoidable cause of death around the globe. According to Cancer.org, smoking kills about six million people around the world every single year, with at least 30% of the deaths caused by cancer and other lethal diseases as a result of smoking.
While many people claim there are several potential health risks that vaping can cause, the biggest proven harm e-cigarettes can cause is dependence, as most e-liquids contain nicotine. Can we even compare this with the likes of cancer and heart attack? So far, no scientific study has given any solid proof that vaping can have life-threatening consequences like smoking.
The only notable study that tried to paint a scary picture of vaping was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, back in early 2015. The study showed that when someone vapes at very high temperatures, a chemical called Formaldehyde – a known carcinogen which is actually a degradation product of propylene glycol – can be produced and inhaled. However, the same study also showed that when vaping is done at moderately high temperatures, no traces of Formaldehyde were found. And ironically, nobody wants the bad burnt taste or aftertaste that’s produced when you vape at ridiculously high temperature. In other words, this study, which has been manipulated by many for personal gains, actually removes the stigma attached to vaping.
However, since vaping caught the spotlight only in the mid-2000s, there is not enough data on the long-term effects of vaping. Hopefully, more researches and studies will offer better understating of how vaping affects our body.
Is vaping safer than smoking?
There’s an ongoing debate on whether vaping is safe or not, and if it is an effective smoking cessation method or not, however, we know one thing for sure and that is: vaping is definitely safer than smoking.
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 the 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."
Vaping vs Smoking – A Head-to-Head Comparison on all Fronts
Health and Safety
Vaping is still dangerous, and many vaporizers employ a liquid known as e-liquid or e-juice that contains nicotine, but usually not in the high concentrations that represent in cigarettes. The biggest change in safety comes from the way the product is produced and delivered. In smoking, the contents (usually tobacco and about 4,000 other ingredients) are combusted. They are lit and they burn and the smoke is inhaled by the user.
This also creates secondhand smoke which causes numerous health problems on its own. Overall, it is a very unhealthy situation, and that combustion creates a lot of the carcinogens present in cigarette smoke.
In vaping you usually don’t have that. You have to say “usually” because not all vaporizers manage to heat their product without combusting it. But once you eliminate the combustion, you do make the product safer. Instead of smoke, you would be inhaling vapor or steam. It’s likely much safer, but you are still inhaling a lot of chemicals that aren’t very good for you.
Cigarettes are pretty much everywhere. You can find them at the grocery, the gas station, online and in many of the shops you frequent. They have been a part of public use for so long that most people just accept that they are there.
Vaporizers are a little harder to come by. Back in the olden days of vaporizer sales, you could only find them in mall kiosks and mail-order catalogs. Now they have a huge presence online, and you can even find them in some markets and many tobacco and vaporizer specialty stores.
But you will have a much harder time finding vaporizers and their assorted product lines than you would find cigarettes and smoking paraphernalia. As vaping becomes more popular, it is increasingly easy to find them.
Here is where the debate between the two really heats up. Cigarettes have been banned in some form or another ever since they appeared. They were first banned on airlines, then in government buildings and later in pretty much every public location. Some states have looser restrictions than others, but for the most part, if you are in a public space, you either have to find a designated smoking area or just wait to smoke until you get home.
Vaping is a bit more complex, but it is slowly going the way of cigarettes as far as public tolerance. While those who vape claim that the secondhand vapor is not as dangerous as secondhand smoke, the research behind such claims is not conclusive. The public often perceives vaping as the same thing. It appears like smoke is emanating from the vaporizers, so non-smokers feel like they may be in danger while vaporizers are in use around them.
What this has meant for those who vape is that the use of vaporizers is slowly being outlawed in public places, city by city. These bans don’t seem to ever lift, so unless new research is discovered it is likely that the bans will continue until vaping is just as prohibited a smoking is.
When we compare smoking vs vaping in terms of cash you have to spend, vaping comes out as a clear winner. Although there are many cheaper options, the very best, high-end vaporizers can cost somewhere around $250. After that, all you need to buy is your favorite e-liquid, and almost all e-liquids come at a nominal cost. As for cigarettes, let’s suppose you’re a pack-a-day smoker, your monthly cost will be somewhere around $300 depending on where you live. So, in the long run, you’ll be saving big bucks by switching to vaping.
Vapor doesn’t smell bad like smoke, neither it discolors your teeth or makes your breath smell bad. In fact, vapor usually smells good like candy or vanilla, depending on the e-liquid. So, with e-cigs, you don’t have to slip out of a gathering, your office, or even your own living room to smoke. Vaping is obviously more socially accepted, but before vaping in public places, make sure you know the local laws as several states don’t allow it.
E-cigarettes are clear winners, in almost every aspect. We will have to wait for a few more years to know the true long-term effects of vaping, but they are definitely safer than smoking. However, when you vape to fulfill your cravings, make sure you don’t break any laws or disturb other people. Moreover, most e-liquids contain some percentage of nicotine, which can be dangerous if ingested. Therefore, always keep your vaping gear away from pets and children.