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Smoking vs. Vaping: Components, Health Risks, Safety, and Costs

smoking vs vaping

Smoking is a dangerous habit that affects millions of Americans ever year. According to the data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 17 out of 100 American adults (ages 18 years old and above) smoked in 2014. The CDC also cites that smoking is the leading cause of more than 480,000 deaths annually or 1 out of 5 deaths every year. The sad truth is that these deaths and diseases are 100% preventable, but smoking is a highly addictive habit, and nicotine, the primary addictive substance in traditional cigarettes, makes it hard for smokers to break their self destructive habit.

Numerous efforts have been made to help curb the smoking habit. These efforts include printing the graphic effects of smoking to human health on cigarette packages as well as the introduction of smoking cessation items like gums and patches. However, a newer innovation in the form of e-cigarettes is seen to have the most potential.

Vaping, or the act of inhaling vapor from an e-cigarette device, has gone a long way in a short span of time since its market introduction. First introduced as inhalation devices for medicine delivery, vapes and personal vaporizers are now a billion dollar industry aiming to help smokers gradually reduce and eliminate their nicotine intake as well as provide a healthier environment for the public.

However, because vaping is still in its infancy, many people are still skeptical about it. How does vaping fare against smoking? Here are the different aspects to look at.

Smoking vs. Vaping: The Rundown

Components: Cigarettes vs. Vapes

According to American Lung Association, a single traditional cigarette contains 600 ingredients that, when burned, produces more than 7,000 chemical substances. Out of these, 69 substances are known to be cancer-causing and a host of more substances are known to be toxic and poisonous. Included in the long list of cigarette’s chemical components are acetone, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, lead, Napthalene, nicotine, and tar. These chemicals are also used in the production of common household items, rubber, rat poisons, and batteries.

Vapes, on the other hand, are electronic devices which contains batteries, tanks, and e-liquids. When the battery heats the e-liquid inside the tank, the liquid turns into vapor. The e-liquid is composed of four basic ingredients: glycerin, propylene glycol, flavorings, and nicotine. Glycerin and propylene glycol are rated by the FDA to be “Generally Recognized as Safe” while the other ingredients are of food grade quality.

Health Concerns: Smoking vs. Vaping

The biggest battle that both smoking and vaping have to win is rooted in the user's health. It has already been established that smoking is dangerous for human health, both for the smoker and the people around them.

Link Between Smoking and Cancer

The CDC warns that smoking is the leading cause of 1 out 5 deaths in the United States every year. Smoking also affects all parts of the body. It increases the risk of lung cancer by 25 times in both men and women, the risk of coronary heart disease by at least 2 times, and the risk of stroke by 2 to 4 times. Smoking also impacts the numerous organs of the body and increases the risk of cancer in the following body parts: oropharynx, trachea, stomach, bladder, lungs, kidney, liver, blood, colon, and pancreas.

Smoking is also known to increase risks of premature delivery & stillbirth in women, infertility in men, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and decreased immune function. Smoking is also a leading cause for unhealthy gums and teeth as well as increasing the risk for developing cataracts.

Secondhand Smoke

Meanwhile, both the CDC and American Lung Association also warn about the risks associated with secondhand smoke. Each year, there are 33,950 people who die of heart disease and 7,330 people who die of lung cancer brought about by secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke contains hundreds of hazardous chemicals that can trigger heart attacks.

Vaping: The Healthier, Safer Alternative

Vaping is still a young industry and there are no authoritative long-term studies for its impact on human health yet. However, many experts agree that vaping is relatively less harmful than traditional cigarette smoking.

In fact, vapes and personal vaporizers are now being pushed as better alternatives to other existing stop smoking items, like nicotine gums and patches, in helping smokers reduce and eventually eliminate their nicotine habit. Since vaping uses e-liquid that has been proven safe and the vapor that comes out of these devices are colorless, odorless, and chemical-free, vaping also does not produce harmful secondhand vapor that can endanger public health.

In fact, the Public Health of England has given its seal of approval for vaping being the safer and healthier option than traditional tobacco smoking. According to PHE, vaping is 95% less harmful and that it “could one day be dispensed as a licensed medicine in an alternative to anti-smoking products such as patches.”

smoking vs vaping

Vaping Helps Smokers Quit

According to the Public Health England, smokers who have tried to quit smoking without success and those who currently have no desire of quitting can use the aid of electronic cigarettes in reducing the health and death risks associated with tobacco smoking.

There is no claim that vaping and e-cigarettes are guaranteed of 100% safety, but they offer relatively lesser harm to users. Placed side-by-side with cigarette smoking, vaping is by far the lesser evil and while most people agree that vaping still has a large gap to fill in long-term researches and studies, it is the most viable means to help people quit smoking available on the market today.

According to researchers from Steven A. Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies and Rutgers School of Public Health, 13% of the people who smoked were able to kick the habit with aid of e-cigarettes. It was also found that using e-cigarettes is more prevalent among former smokers who stopped the habit within the past year and among current smokers. According to the study’s lead researcher, Cristine Delveno, “this study is in line with other recent evidence that regular, daily e-cigarette use may help some smokers quit cigarettes.”

Safety Concerns: Smoking vs. Vaping

The main risks of smoking lie within the fact that it produces harmful chemicals that can endanger the health and life of the smoker as well as that of the general public. For instance, one of the combustion by-products, tar, is a highly dangerous substance that can cause emphysema and a host of respiratory diseases. Secondhand smoke, especially among infants and young children, is also a legitimate cause for safety concerns. The fact remains that no matter how careful you are with smoking, you cannot do away with its health risks unless you quit.  

Vaping on the other hand, is not 100% devoid of safety issues; however, the concerns are more on mechanical handling of the e-liquid and the device. The nicotine in the e-liquid is highly concentrated that when the juice is mishandled during transferring, mixing, or steeping, can come in contact with the person’s skin. Such exposure can put you at risk of nicotine poisoning.

It is also unsafe to charge your vaping device unattended and to use the incorrect batteries and chargers. This can cause the batteries to explode and put you at risk of injury and property damage. Lastly, you shouldn’t exceed the recommended voltage of your device as this can put a strain deal of strain on the device and also become potential for explosion.

There’s an enormous degree of care of caution required when handling a vaping device. As long as this is exercised, vaping will continue to be safe and risk-free both for the user and other people.

Cost Comparison: Smoking vs. Vaping

Smoking costs more money than vaping.

Vaping devices nowadays are rechargeable and most of what you’ll have to spend would on the e-liquid. The device is going to be a one-time expense that you can enjoy for a long time, given proper care and maintenance.

According to the vaping community, you only need 2ml of your favorite e-liquid to match a pack of cigarettes. Meanwhile, a pack of cigarettes in most states are typically sold at $6. If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day at $6 of daily expense, your total annual expense is $2,500 on smoking alone. However, a 10ml bottle of e-liquid will last you for 5 days, costing you only $7. Vaping 2ml of e-liquid per day now will only cost you $1.40 with an annual expense of $511.

That’s a solid $1,500 in annual savings.

The Bottom Line

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and it is present in both traditional tobacco products and vaping products, but you can vape eLiquids that don't have any nicotine in them. However, the issues of health and safety do not inspect the amount of nicotine in these products. In traditional cigarettes, there are other chemicals that are highly toxic, poisonous, and cancer-causing.

While it is difficult for many people to quit smoking cold turkey, you can significantly reduce the health risks by taking up vaping. Vaping also provides plenty of savings when used as a smoking alternative. While vaping is still new and has been a hot topic of debate, people who have since switched to it have enjoyed vaporizing pleasure without a host of health risks associated with traditional smoking.  

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