Is Vaping a Healthier Alternative to Smoking?

Is Vaping a Healthier Alternative to Smoking
Is Vaping a Healthier Alternative to Smoking

Vaping is a Healthier Alternative to Smoking

People often wonder if vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking. The short answer is yes, by about 95 percent. The longer answer is still yes, but it involves backing up the 95 percent determination. Before diving into studies and stats in support of vaping, it’s important to first look at what smoking and vaping are known to do to your body.

What Smoking Does

Smoking involves lighting a substance on fire and then inhaling the smoke produced. While you may think the substance you’re inhaling is simply tobacco and nicotine, it is actually much more.

Cigarettes deliver nicotine as well as a massive range of toxins found in tar. The smoke contains an estimated 7,357 chemical compounds, and 70 of those compounds are known to cause cancer in humans. A handful of the more hazardous more hazardous compounds include formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, acrolein, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and DDT.

Regularly inhaling the numerous compounds found in cigarette smoke has been shown to be detrimental to:

Circulation, thickening the blood, narrowing the arteries and increasing blood pressure and heart rate
Heart, putting a strain on it to work harder and faster while doubling the risk of heart attack
Stomach, increasing risk of ulcers and stomach cancer
Skin, reducing oxygen flow and resulting in premature aging, wrinkles, cellulite and sallow complexion
Bones, causing them to become brittle and weak
Brain, increasing likelihood of brain aneurysms and stroke
Lungs, causing cancer and numerous other diseases
Mouth and throat, bringing on stained teeth, bad breath and possible gum disease
Fertility and reproduction, damaging sperm and blood vessels in men, reducing fertility in women

What Vaping Does

Vaping involves heating a substance to produce a vapor, which is then inhaled. Here you’re inhaling vapor produced from e-liquid, which typically contains for main ingredients:

• PG, or propylene glycol
• VG, or vegetable glycerin
• Nicotine (optional)
• Some type of flavor

If the flavor used for e-liquid is based on a natural substance, like real tobacco, no additional preservatives, flavoring or coloring is necessarily required. Synthetic e-liquid flavors are produced using various chemicals, which would then become part of the vapor you inhale.

Both PG and VG are generally recognized as safe for ingestion by the Food and Drug Administration. An independent review published by Public Health England in 2014 noted that PG is not known to have any detrimental effects on the lungs. Testing PG and VG over a sustained period with repeated inhalations has not yet been performed, as vaping is still a relatively recent development.

Nicotine is typically delivered in both smoking and vaping, but the Public Health England review said nicotine is not a significant health hazard. Nicotine is not the culprit behind cancer or other serious health issues smoking brings. The health issues arise from combustion. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb went so far as to call nicotine attached to cigarette smoke particles “an addictive chemical mix of disease and death.”

That’s the big difference between smoking and vaping, and one of the main reasons vaping is a healthier alternative. Cigarettes are combustible, while vaping is not.

Vaping about 95 Percent Safer Than Smoking

The determination that vaping was about 95 percent safer than smoking came from Public Health England back in 2014. The organization has continued to back up their initial determination, explaining how two main factors led to this conclusion.

The first is that the carcinogens and other hazardous substances found in cigarette smoke don’t exist at the same levels as they do in vapor. In fact, many are not existent at all. Those that do exist are found at levels less than 1 to 5 percent of the levels in cigarette smoke.

The second is the fact that the main chemicals used in vaping, namely PG and VG, have not been associated with any major health issues.

The bottom line for Public Health England is that there’s “no doubt” that smokers who turn to vaping “dramatically” reduce the risks to their health.

Vaping Scores 85 Points Lower than Cigarettes on Hazard Scale

A research report published in European Addiction Research ranked a variety of nicotine products on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the most harmful. Cigarettes ranked at the very top with a score of 100. Vaping fell into the lowest-scoring products, receiving a score of 15 or less.

The report was conducted by an international expert panel put together by the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs. The panel’s conclusion mirrored statements made by Public Health England and the FDA. Cigarettes are the nicotine products that pose the greatest hazards by far, and switching to non-combusted sources of nicotine significantly reduces the risk of harm.

Vaping, of course, is on the list of non-combusted sources of nicotine, along with nicotine lozenges, patches and gum.

Vaping on Par with Lozenges, Patches and Gum for Harm Reduction

Vaping is not only on the same list as other non-combustible nicotine replacement therapies, but it was found to result in the same amount of harm reduction when people turned to them to quit smoking. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reviewed the levels of carcinogens and other toxins in three different groups:

• Current smokers
• Dual users who continued to smoke while using nicotine replacement therapies or vaping
• Former smokers who quit smoking completely and used nicotine replacement therapies or vaping

Results showed those who put down cigarettes completely and turned to either nicotine replacement therapies or vaping had substantially reduced levels of carcinogens and toxins. Vaping was found to be on par with nicotine lozenges, patches and gum for harm reduction.

The Bottom Line

Yes, vaping is still relatively new and more studies need to be conducted to determine if there may be any potential long-term risks. But while you’re waiting around for those studies to materialize, you’ll be doing your body no favors if you continue to smoke as usual.

Switching from smoking to vaping can dramatically reduce your health risks, eliminate the massive amount of toxins created by combustion, and reduce the toxin levels as significantly as turning to nicotine lozenges, patches, or gum. Vaping is no doubt a healthier alternative to smoking, and by notably substantial margin.


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