Is vaping a safe alternative to smoking? If you’re a smoker, you’re well aware of the massive health risk you’re taking. You know that smoking ultimately leads to lung cancer and heart disease. You know that smoking is a scourge to public health and that it is the world’s leading preventable cause of death. Tobacco products don’t just cause health issues; being a smoker can also put a serious damper on your social life. You’ve heard about vaping, and you want to know if it’s really less harmful than smoking.
In this article, we’ll attempt to provide a balanced perspective on cigarettes and vaping and explain what the current research says about whether e-cigs are safe. We’ll also dig a bit deeper and describe the known benefits and risks of vaping. Finally, we’ll speak about some special circumstances such as vaping without nicotine and vaping if you aren’t already a smoker. Let’s begin!
Can Vaping Help You Quit Smoking?
We’ll start with the most basic question. Does vaping work as a smoking cessation method that can help you quit conventional cigarettes? The answer to that question is “yes.” People quit smoking every day by switching to vaping. The NHS recommends vaping as a legitimate smoking cessation method and says that it can “help you quit smoking for good.” It’s even possible that prescription e-cigarettes will be available through the NHS in the near future.
It’s likely that you have friends or family members who have already quit smoking cigarettes by switching to vaping. At this point, though, the evidence to support the effectiveness of vaping for smoking cessation isn’t just anecdotal. There is now a significant body of research supporting the fact that vaping is more effective than traditional nicotine replacement in helping people quit.
In 2019, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study in which 886 people who requested smoking cessation help through the NHS were randomly assigned either vape starter kits or traditional nicotine replacement products. After one year, 18 percent of the participants who received e-cigarettes had quit smoking successfully. Of the participants who received traditional nicotine replacement products, only 9.9 percent had quit smoking.
Is There Any Scientific Research to Prove Vaping Is Safer Than Smoking?
There is ample scientific research confirming that vaping is safer than smoking. In October 2021, the Centre of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction released perhaps the largest review of smoking and vaping ever conducted. The researchers who compiled the review analysed a total body of 755 scientific and clinical studies. After subjecting those studies to stringent quality analysis, the researchers found that 37 of them were of sufficient quality to include in the review. The review ultimately concluded that:
- There is no evidence linking vaping with heart disease or damage to the user’s blood vessels.
- There is no evidence linking vaping with lung diseases such as COPD and asthma.
The review also concluded that, in the studies on vaping safety that have been conducted to date, those associating vaping with negative health outcomes tend to be much lower in quality than those associating vaping with positive outcomes.
It’s important to note, however, that a lack of evidence definitively linking vaping with specific health risks doesn’t mean those risks don’t exist. We’ll discuss the known risks of vaping shortly. First, though, let’s talk about the benefits of vaping that can be verified without clinical studies.
What Are the Known Benefits of Vaping?
Although high-quality scientific research almost universally finds vaping to be less harmful than regular cigarettes, we intuitively know that nicotine addiction isn’t harmless and that the true risk profile of vaping can only be properly assessed with large-scale studies that haven’t been conducted yet. With that in mind, let’s talk about the three known benefits of vaping that don’t require the confirmation of a clinical study.
- E-liquid isn’t tobacco smoke. The harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke are either not present at all in e-cigarette vapour or are present in much lower concentrations. Most importantly, e-cigarette vapour contains no tar or carbon monoxide.
- Vaping is infinitely better for your self-esteem than smoking. E-liquid vapour doesn’t leave a lingering unpleasant odour on your hair, clothing and skin. Vaping doesn’t give you bad breath. The fact that you vape won’t hurt your social standing and won’t make people want to avoid standing close to you.
- Vaping is significantly less expensive than smoking. If you switch to vaping, you can expect to save hundreds – potentially even thousands – of pounds per year.
What Are the Potential Risks of Vaping?
As we mentioned above, the reliable scientific studies conducted to date have concluded that vaping is safer than smoking. With that said, we know intuitively that inhaling anything other than air – and using any nicotine product – must be riskier than not doing those things. The primary risks of vaping stem from these three factors.
- Although nicotine-free e-liquid is available, most people who vape are doing so because they want to quit smoking. Therefore, they will usually want to buy e-liquid with nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical that’s unsafe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Nicotine also has links or potential links to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Although the propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine and flavours used in e-liquid are FDA approved and considered safe to use as food additives, long-term studies regarding the safety of inhaling those chemicals have not been conducted. It will probably be a long time before studies begin to evaluate the safety of vaping on an individual-ingredient basis.
- There is always an inherent risk when using e-liquids and other vaping products from unknown sources. In 2019, the United States experienced a lung injury outbreak that was traced back to black-market cannabis vape cartridges that were tainted with the additive vitamin E acetate. At Simply ELiquid, we sell no products containing either cannabis or vitamin E acetate, and we source our products only from the original manufacturers and manufacturer-authorised distributors. When you buy a vape kit here, you can feel completely confident that you’re getting an authentic and safe product.
Is Vaping Safe Without Nicotine?
Eliminating nicotine from your life will rid you of an addiction that costs a great deal of money and is incredibly difficult to quit. If you can manage to quit traditional cigarettes and use e-cigarettes to reduce and eliminate your nicotine intake, you will have accomplished something that should make you very proud. If you reach that point, you should consider quitting vaping. While vaping is significantly less risky than smoking, it is not completely risk free – even without nicotine.
Is Vaping Safe for Non-Smokers?
Vaping is intended only as an alternative to smoking for those who would otherwise be unable to quit. Here at Simply ELiquid, we do not sell vaping products to young people who cannot legally purchase cigarettes. If you are not a smoker or nicotine user, please do not vape. Nicotine is an incredibly addictive substance in any form. Most people who use nicotine ultimately become addicted, and most people who try to stop using nicotine fail to do so.