Is It Safer To Vape Than Smoke?

Ten years ago it was unusual to see a billowing cloud of nicotine vapor flowing out of a car window while the driver puffed on an e-cigarette. In fact, you were probably startled the first time you saw it, but now it's so commonplace that it barely registers a second glance. E-cigarette shops, or vape shops, are popping up all over cities across the country, providing their customers with a different way, and some say a safer way, to get their nicotine fix. But is an e-cig really that much safer than a regular cigarette? Here is what you should know before visiting the local vape store.

What are E-Cigs?

E-cigarettes are battery-operated devices of varying shapes and sizes that vaporize capsules or containers of a liquid base. The liquid typically contains nicotine, chemical additives like propylene glycol, as well as a huge assortment of flavors. The device also includes some type of heating element that heats the liquid base, turning it to vapor when a user inhales.

Combustion vs. Vapor

Cigarettes and e-cigs both contain nicotine. But it's not the nicotine that's up for debate in the cigarette vs. e-cig battle. It's the way that nicotine is ingested. Many experts suggest that inhaling a vaporized liquid that contains nicotine is inherently safer than inhaling combusted smoke. According to Dr. Neal Benowitz, a researcher at the University of California at San Francisco, the majority of the harm from traditional cigarettes comes from the chemicals inhaled in the smoke. Because e-cigs don't involve combustion, those chemicals aren't present when a person inhales and therefore e-cig users are exposed to fewer toxins. According to Dr. Benowitz, this means that e-cigarettes are less harmful than traditional cigarettes. 

Helps You Quit

Another aspect of the e-cig debate is whether or not e-cigarettes can help you quit smoking. A University of California at San Francisco observational study concluded, based on the results of five population-based studies, that e-cig users were one third more likely to quit traditional smoking than non e-cig users. That's a significant reduction that some scientists believe could even save a significant amount of lives. In fact, one scientific study published in the Tobacco Control journal posited that switching from traditional cigarettes to vaping over a ten-year period could reduce premature deaths by 6 million and also add an additional 86.7 million years of life lived to users who replace traditional cigarettes with e-cigarettes.

According to these studies, replacing traditional cigarettes with e-cigarettes is a beneficial option for smokers. It minimizes the harmful products ingested into a user's system, helps users quit smoking, and also reduces the risks of premature death.