The debate over tobacco vs. vaping has been going on for some time now.
Some experts and organisations claim that vaping is just as risky as smoking or chewing tobacco. Others say vaping is a much better alternative and that it is actually an effective quitting strategy.
Most research supports the latter viewpoint; that vaping is much less dangerous than tobacco and can help smokers quit.
Tobacco vs. Vaping – The Main Difference
The main difference between tobacco and vaping is how they work.
Cigars, pipes and cigarettes all work by burning tobacco.
This produces tar and carbon monoxide, two dangerous substances, along with hundreds of other potentially harmful chemicals.
In contrast, e-cigarettes do not contain nor do they burn tobacco. Instead, they produce a nicotine vapour.
The vapour may also contain other additives that provide a specific flavour.
An e-cigarette consists of a battery and a tank containing an e-liquid.
Is Vaping as Dangerous as Tobacco?
According to the NHS, vaping is safer than smoking or chewing tobacco.
That’s because there is no tobacco involved. E-cigarettes contain fewer chemicals compared to traditional cigarettes.
Some of these chemicals are potentially harmful so there is still some health risk associated with vaping. However, the concentration of any harmful chemicals is hundreds of times less compared to tobacco.
One study estimates that vaping is 95% safer than tobacco.
In the UK, there are very strict quality and safety standards on e-cigarettes, providing more assurance as to their safety.
What About the Nicotine?
The main similarity between vaping and tobacco is that you inhale nicotine with both.
But nicotine on its own is not very harmful and has not been proven to cause cancer or any serious diseases.
It is highly addictive, which is a problem with tobacco. It keeps one coming back to the dangerous chemicals, even though nicotine itself is less harmful.
With vaping, you have more control over your nicotine intake. You can select an e-cigarette that produces less nicotine or buy an e-liquid with reduced nicotine concentration.
Can Vaping Help Smokers Quit?
The NHS says that vaping along with additional quitting support is an effective way to stop smoking or chewing tobacco.
You can still get your nicotine cravings met without exposing yourself to toxic chemicals.
In a recent study, people who use e-cigarettes to stop smoking have a 95% higher success rates than people who try quitting without any aid.
NHS recommends completely replacing tobacco with e-cigarettes for the best results. It’s also important that you choose an e-cigarette with the right nicotine strength.
For more advice and support on how to use e-cigarettes to quit, consult your local Stop Smoking Service. Use this NHS search page to find whether there is one near you.
Tobacco vs Vaping – Safety of Others Around You
One of the biggest problems with smoking, and the main reason there are strict bans on it, is the potential danger of second hand smoke.
Studies have shown that people around a smoker are at risk of the same diseases as the smoker.
In contrast, the risk of harm from second hand vapour from an e-cig is extremely low.
Vaping is better and safer for those around you.
However, it’s important to be sensitive to their needs. If they find the vapour uncomfortable, find a private secluded place to vape.
Tobacco vs. Vaping – Use During Pregnancy
Any form of tobacco intake is dangerous for pregnant women. It can cause a miscarriage, low birth weight and birth defects.
If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, it’s highly recommended you quit smoking.
There hasn’t been much research into the safety of vaping by pregnant women. But experts say it is significantly less harmful that tobacco.
If you still have nicotine cravings when you are pregnant, you are much better off vaping than smoking or chewing tobacco.
Nicotine patches and gum are also safer alternatives.
The Bottom Line
Here’s the main takeaway: vaping is a better and healthier alternative to tobacco.
There are fewer health risks and it makes it easier to quit smoking.
Vaping is also safer for people around you, especially children and pregnant women.