If you’ve been to a movie theater or watched a show on your favorite app lately, you may have seen commercials featuring puppets claiming that vaping is as bad as or even worse than cigarette smoking!
But wild advertisements and irresponsible claims have hindered our trust in what we see and hear from the media, and it can be frustrating not knowing who or what to believe.
But what does the science say? Is vaping safer than smoking?
The Proven Health Risks of Cigarette Smoking
Cigarette smoking has been around for long enough for us to clearly see its results in both the short and the long term. There’s sufficient scientific evidence linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, stroke, and many other chronic health problems.
Cigarettes contain dangerous chemicals and substances, which are quite harmful by themselves (even if the cigarette contained no nicotine). When combined in a cigarette, these substances increase inflammatory cytokines inside your body, triggering defense mechanisms against body toxins, and creating a series of modifications in the cardiovascular system.
All of these effects of cigarettes have been systematically proven in all users, and cigarette companies are now required to mention how harmful smoking is for our health.
Is that why so many choose vaping?
Top Reasons People Choose Vaping Over Smoking
You would probably guess the top reason people choose vaping is for a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes. This is the most common reason, because vape juice does not contain the same harmful substances as cigarettes.
However, a recent research article on the subject found that isn’t the number one reason people are turning to vaping. Instead they cite wanting to boost their social image.
Yes, vaping has turned into a fashionable and “cool” practice people adopt while trying to fit into a social setting (whether they’re trying to quit smoking or not).
Of course, not everyone fits into a single reason. You would likely find those who prefer vaping because it has a different taste, because it is less expensive, and because it is safer for them and the people around them.
However, by saying that vaping is cheaper, safer, and a good alternative to smoking cigarettes, most people fail to convey the health risks associated with vaping, making everyone think it is a completely risk-free practice when that’s simply not the case.
Possible Health Risks Associated With Vaping
After reviewing the scientific literature on the subject, we can find that vaping can cause lung irritation in individuals inhaling the chemicals contained in vape juice.
Even though there are fewer chemicals involved, vaping does release toxic carbonyl substances, including acetone, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, and others into the body.
Concerns have also been raised about the preservatives and flavorings used for vaping.
However, we still need more research to know how much damage these chemicals can do.
There’s not enough scientific data, and we might need a few more years before we know the exact side effects of vaping. In the meantime, we do have evidence that it is not entirely harmless to users and the people around them.
Who Should Avoid Vaping?
Since vaping is a relatively new practice, it will take time to understand the long-term health risks associated with vaping. Something similar happens with new medications and medical devices. Serious adverse effects will be uncovered, but only after the medication or device has been available to the public for years or even decades. This is the risk that people who vape are taking now.
That’s why while many doctors may recognize that vaping has lower health risks than smoking, they will not encourage the practice because we simply don’t have all of the data yet.
Those who use vaping as a way to “look cool” instead of as a quit-smoking tool should avoid vaping as they do with actual smoking. Vaping can be addicting if it contains nicotine, and it can also develop into a psychological addiction, both of which can be difficult habits to break.
Also, since vaping is a much more widely accepted practice both in homes and in public, it can be very easy to inhale a much larger amount of nicotine by hitting the vape non-stop than if you were to, say, have to step outside each time you wanted a smoke.
If you’re vaping in an attempt to quit smoking cigarettes, the practice will ultimately be safer for you than cigarettes, so long as you’re planning on quitting both in the end.
How to Vape to Quit Smoking
The best way to use a vape to quit smoking is to gradually reduce your nicotine intake and use the vape as you would a cigarette. For example, instead of holding it in your hand and smoking it whenever the mood strikes, force yourself to only use it outside or in only one room in the house for no longer than it would take you to smoke an actual cigarette. Then, put the vape down and go about your day.
Repeat this process while gradually reducing your nicotine intake, and this could help you quit smoking and vaping entirely.
Another trick to quit smoking using a vape is to buy a flavor you don’t particularly care for. This way, you’ll be less tempted to smoke it absently throughout the day just because it tastes or smells good.
The bottom line is, vaping may be safer than smoking cigarettes, but only if you’re using it to quit smoking altogether.