Vaping vs Smoking: Is One Better Than the Other?

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Vaping vs smoking. Countless debates, studies, and articles on research can be found online on this topic. If you are a smoker, you might be asking yourself if vaping is better smoking? If you vape, you might be wondering is vape safe? 

We are here to provide you some information on the topic. Hopefully, some new developments are made to determine which one is better.

Vaping vs Smoking: What is the difference?

vaping vs smoking health info

The main difference between smoking and vaping stems from how nicotine is delivered. The burning end of a cigarette reaches temperatures of 900 C or 1652 F which creates tobacco smoke. The process of combustion is what generates carcinogenic chemicals, and this is why smoking cigarettes are dangerous.

On the other hand, vaping does not burn chemicals, and instead, it heats the ingredients into an aerosol aka vapor.


Before we start comparing the differences between vaping and smoking in detail, let’s go through the similarities between the two.

The Similarities Between Vaping and Smoking

Similarities between Smoking and Vaping

As seen in the chart above, E-cigarettes, also known as vapes or vaping devices are classified by the FDA as a tobacco product. A critical similarity to note is that the main ingredients in e-juices are also in cigarettes as additives to improve the smoking experience.

What Are The Ingredients In E-juice?

What are the E-liquid Ingredients?

All E-juices, commonly referred as E-liquid or Vape juice contains four main ingredients:

  • Propylene Glycol (PG
  • Vegetable Glycerin or Glycerol (VG
  • Flavoring Concentrates
  • Nicotine - Many compare nicotine to caffeine for its stimulant-like properties, high risk for addiction, and lethally toxic when ingested in high concentrations or its pure form. It also explains why e-juice bottles are child-proofed to prevent accidental nicotine overdose. Note, not all e-juice contains nicotine as you can order 0 mg nicotine.

  • PG and VG are also added into cigarettes as an additive to keep the tobacco from drying out. Natural and Artificial flavorings are also added such as cocoa and licorice to give cigarettes a distinct taste.

    Does Nicotine Cause Cancer?

    Nicotine is a source of concern to many because it is associated with cigarettes. Many wrongly assume that nicotine is what causes cancer, but it couldn't be farther from the truth. It is widely accepted in the scientific community that nicotine does not cause cancer.

    What researchers did find is when nicotine is combined with tobacco smoke, it can accelerate the development of existing tumors. Thus, nicotine can increase the carcinogenic effects of tobacco smoke. Read more about the harmful effects of nicotine in this study.

    Unless you are a DIYer or a nicotine manufacturer, nicotine can be a hazardous chemical. However, if you continue to smoke, nicotine is the least of your worries.

    The REAL Danger of Smoking Cigarettes

    As we have stated above, the real danger lies in the harmful chemicals released when tobacco goes through combustion. The ingredients above including the 500 other ingredients used in cigarettes are all surprisingly FDA approved as additives to put in your food.

    However, burning these chemical compounds paint a different story, and some of these chemicals are known to have carcinogenic effects.

    With over 4000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, 250 are known to be harmful chemicals and at least 60 can cause cancer.

    Which is more harmful, e-cigarettes or Smoking?

    Are E-cigarettes safer than smoking cigarettes?

    Before we get into the health effects of vaping, here are two prominent studies among the many findings.

    a doctors opinion on vaping vs smoking

    Now that we have some perspective on what the scientific community thinks, let’s get into the health effects of vaping and what causes them.

    Health Effects of Vaping

    health effects of vaping vs smoking

    As we have briefly discussed above, the danger of smoking cigarettes is caused by the combustion process. Whereas, e-cigarettes vaporize the ingredients into a fine mist or aerosol.

    How Harmful Is Vaping?

    The four main ingredients used in e-liquid are considered “Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)” by the FDA for human ingestion, but the effects of inhaling these chemicals are not widely understood.

    The harmful chemicals released in the vaping process are also found in tobacco smoke. Compared to the 250 known harmful chemicals and more than 60 cancer-causing compounds in cigarette smoke, researchers have found 31 potentially toxic compounds in vapors

    It’s also important to understand that the levels of toxic chemicals found in vaping are dependent on the device used (Power), e-liquid contents (varies by flavor and brand), and user behavior (puff topography).

    Furthermore, every vape juice will test differently due to the manufacturing process with each brand. Such as:

    • the flavorings used (Diacetyl, Vanillin, etc.)
    • the production environment (Contaminants)
    • the purity of the ingredients (specifically when testing for NNN and NNK)
    • the device used (higher wattages, wicking system, and type of coil used)
    • how the user interacts with the device (Dry Hits)

    What We Know About The Health Effects of Vaping:

    1. Harmful chemicals are released when e-juice ingredients are degraded in the vaping process

    2. Comparable amounts of toxicants (Formaldehyde, Acetaldehyde, and Metals) in vapor were also found in FDA-approved Nicorette Inhaler sold as an NRT products

    3. Metals found in vapor may leach from the metal coil used to heat the e-juice

    4. Emission of toxic chemicals exist both in vape aerosol and tobacco smoke

    5. Studies show inconsistent results regarding the level of harmful chemicals found due to how the study was conducted to emulate the behavior of a real vaper, different e-juices used, and the various vaping devices used in the study.

    chemicals in vaping vs the chemicals in cigarettes


    What We Don’t Know:

    1. The long-term health impact are not known (Respiratory diseases, Cardiovascular diseases, and Cancer)
      2. Whether the trace amounts of harmful chemicals found in vaping is enough to do substantial damage to the human health.

        Everyone who vapes is now part of a greater toxicological experiment and only time will tell. Until then, scientists will continue to produce new studies that will ultimately determine how e-cigarette products will be regulated.

        Let’s talk about some of the side effects vapers have reported.

        What Are The Potential Side Effects of Vaping?

        side effects of vaping vs smoking

        Listed below are commonly reported adverse effects within the vaping community. Not everyone experiences these symptoms, but nicotine-related side effects can occur when vaping at high intensity.

        Nicotine-related side effects:

        • Vomiting
        • Nausea / Dizziness
        • Eye irritation
        • Stomach Aches
        • Increased blood pressure
        • Increased heart rate

        Vaping Without Nicotine Effects:

        • Chest Pain
        • Coughing
        • Throat irritation
        • Wheezing
        • Dehydration - dry mouth, skin, nose
        • Headaches
        • Increased Asthma Exacerbations

        It's difficult for researchers to differentiate the effects of vaping on the lungs since some vapers have smoked cigarettes in the past or are current dual users. Ultimately, there is not enough evidence yet to conclude the possible harm reduction in the lungs from vaping.

        Second-Hand Exposure: Vaping vs Smoking

        vaping vs smoking second hand smoke

        The dangers of secondhand smoke are well-documented as it increases the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers. This is due to the carcinogens and toxins being released into the air that non-smokers breathe. There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke, and the evidence is quite clear on the dangers of secondhand smoke.

        surgeon general statement on lung cancer

        The science we have currently for second have vape is limited and conflicting due to the methodology used in the study (chamber experiments, real-setting experiments, and observational studies).

        We can’t say it’s safe but what you can do if you are outside is be courteous to those around you by not blowing vapor in bystanders way. Please follow the laws in your area and be respectful of the rules and regulations that ban vaping indoors or outside.

        What are the Dangers of Vaping?

        You may have seen videos or heard stories about how vaping devices have exploded and caused serious harm. Other stories may have been about lethal overdoses from ingesting e-liquid. These are serious concerns worth investigating so let’s talk about the reality of these dangers and how concerned you should be.

        The Dangers of E-cigarette Explosions

        What causes these incidents are when the batteries are heated over their boiling point where the internal pressure inside the battery builds until it ruptures. How this happens can be due to various reasons. Educating yourself on the various ways on how it is possible that a vape explodes is important.

        The Dangers of E-liquid Poisoning

        Is E-liquid Poisonous?

        The ingestion of e-liquid whether it’s intentional or unintentional can cause serious harm to your health due to nicotine poisoning. Ingestion can occur in two ways: drinking the liquid or through skin contact or the eyes. The real danger lies when a child or an infant mistakenly drinks the bottle of e-liquid. Nicotine even in small amounts can be fatal to children.

        Should you be worried about nicotine poisoning from e-liquid ingestion or skin contact? For adults, nicotine overdose shouldn’t be a concern if you properly handle the e-liquid.

        If you happen to spill e-liquid and you get some on your skin, you should immediately run it through warm water to avoid any adverse effects.

        Symptoms of Nicotine Poisoning:

        • Vomiting
        • Nausea
        • Stomach cramps
        • Heavy Breathing
        • Increased blood pressure
        • Seizures
        • Headaches
        • Confusion
        • Anxiety

        E-juice Manufacturers are required by the FDA to implement proper child-resistant packaging. If you have kids or pets, please place your e-juice bottle or device out of reach from children and pets.


        Feel free leave your thoughts in the comment section and what you think about the whole vaping vs smoking issue. 

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