Vaping has increased in popularity over the years and comes with various tasty flavors you can find in various vape shops. But, is vaping healthier than smoking? Most people believe it is a healthier alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes.
Vaping and smoking both deliver nicotine into your bloodstream, where it travels to your brain. The main difference is with smoking conventional cigarettes, you burn the tobacco leaves to release the nicotine. In contrast, vaping or e-cigarettes have batteries that heat up a liquid containing nicotine and turn it into an aerosol. This article will compare different components of vaping vs. smoking to determine which is a healthier alternative.
Number of Chemical Substances
While an average cigarette has up to 600 substances, burning it can produce around 7,000 different chemicals. Most of these chemicals, such as tar, lead, and ammonia, are harmful to your health and are the main reasons why smoking is considered unhealthy. In comparison, vaping involves fewer chemicals. However, it still does release certain heavy metals and carcinogens that can impact health.
The main flavor additive in cigarettes is menthol that gives a minty taste and smell. In 2009, the FDA banned all other flavors, such as fruit and clove, in the U.S. The main concern was how the different flavors could attract youth. Even with menthol, almost half of smokers aged 12 to 17 prefer menthol.
In comparison, vaping comes with a wide range of flavors, including candy-flavors, mint, strawberry, and mango. There is no regulation or bans currently on the flavors. However, there is concern that flavored additives can make vaping more addictive since the flavors also “taste good.” Scientists have also found that certain flavor additives will mix with vape juices to create new chemicals in the bottle. For example, the main ingredient of vape juices, propylene glycol, can negatively react to flavors such as cherry, vanilla, and cinnamon.
Without considering flavor additives, nicotine on its own is a highly addictive substance. Addiction typically occurs from the fast delivery of high nicotine levels to your brain. Although cigarettes and vaping have different methods to release nicotine, the route through the body is the same. The chemical enters your lungs and then your bloodstream before it quickly travels to the brain. This means that both vaping and smoking can lead to addiction.
Nicotine Intake Levels
Although nicotine is addictive, you can much easier monitor your level of nicotine intake with vaping. You can purchase vaping products with a wide range of nicotine levels, including very small amounts. The average amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes is 0.5 to 15.4 mg for 15 puffs. In contrast, an average cigarette has around 10 to 12 mg of nicotine. However, some brands sell extra-strength e-cigarette cartridges that offer higher nicotine concentrations.
A big concern about smoking is how it impacts our lung function and cardiovascular function. One study found that vaping created similar effects on lung and cardiovascular function as smoking did. However, there needed more research on the impact of muscle function.
Overall, new studies are coming out every day around the health impacts of vaping, including ones that contradict each other. For example, a different study found that switching from cigarettes to vaping can improve your blood vessel function. Looking at 114 adults, they compared people who continued smoking traditional cigarettes to those who switched to e-cigarettes. After a month, the vaping group had over 20% relative improvement in blood vessel functioning.
Available Studies and Data
When comparing vaping and smoking, it’s important to consider the fact that there is limited research conducted on the effects of vaping. With the products being fairly new on the market, not as much time has passed either to determine their long-term impacts. In contrast, there are years of research to back up the claims that smoking is unhealthy. There is also more data on the number of deaths associated with smoking.
With so much variety in vaping products available, more research needs to occur to fully understand how it measures up compared to smoking. For example, products with vitamin E acetate as a thickening agent are unhealthier than vaping products without it. So it’s possible there are vaping products, brands, or flavors that are indeed healthier than smoking.
Since there needs to be more research around the long-term impacts of vaping, it’s hard to finalize with certainty whether it is healthier than smoking. They both have addictive qualities and release toxic chemicals that can impact health. However, the toxic chemicals involved in vaping are considered less than traditional cigarettes and research has found vaping can improve blood vessel functioning. You can also purchase vapes with significantly lower nicotine levels to better monitor your intake.