Is vaping safer than smoking?

Written by Rachel Giuliani

Yes… sort of. But that’s not nearly the whole story.

Vaping doesn’t involve inhaling something that is currently on fire, so in that sense, you’re saving yourself from several of the known carcinogens and other toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke.

But you’re still exposing yourself to toxic chemicals, some of which may be carcinogens also. It’s not entirely known which chemicals are present in vapor, and since e-cigarettes and similar products haven’t been on the market long enough to study long-term effects, claims about their safety don’t have much to back them up.

And of course, e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, and —contrary to claims that vaping can help you quit smoking — can make you four times more likely to start smoking traditional cigarettes.

As the American Heart Association says, “[e]-cigarettes’ biggest threat to public health may be this: The increasing popularity of vaping may 're-normalize' smoking, which has declined for years. Reversing the hard-won gains in the global effort to curb smoking would be catastrophic.”

They’re right: in 2015, the Surgeon General reported that e-cigarette use had increased by 900% among high school students, with 40% of students having never tried traditional tobacco. That is, e-cigarettes are what got them started with smoking. And just like in cigarettes’ heyday, millions of dollars are spent every year making e-cigarettes and vaping seem appealing and cool to younger people.

The bottom line: vaping may be safer than smoking, but it’s not safe at all. It’s not a less harmful alternative to smoking, it’s just nicotine and carcinogens in a different, less-studied format. It’s more likely to turn you into a cigarette smoker in the long run, so don’t start vaping thinking that you’re doing yourself a favor — the odds say you’ll be smoking regular cigarettes within a few years. And if you’re looking to quit smoking, look elsewhere.

The views expressed in this article intend to highlight alternative studies and induce conversation. They are the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HeyDoctor, and are for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that this article features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.