Vaping Vs Smoking: What Are the Real Health Risks?


Vaping has been around for a long time now, but not as long as cigarette smoking, and it is not nearly as widespread. As a result, the jury is still out about some of the health risks involved with vaping. Advocates will say that the risks of vaping are minimal, while detractors will say it is just as dangerous if not more so than smoking.

What is the real story? What are the health risks of vaping vs. smoking and why? Here are some facts you may not have known.

Ingredients Matter

There are inexpensive vape liquids that raise the question of what is actually in them. Of course, to make things a cheaper way, you need to save money on ingredients and even flavoring. The nicotine added may not be of the highest quality. Thus the “cheap” e-cigs with “cheap” liquids can put those who vape at risk.

However, higher end mods and those who use the Suorin pod system or something similar actually use organic liquids made from all natural ingredients with all natural flavorings and pharmaceutical grade nicotine, if the liquid contains nicotine at all. This means there are no strange chemicals or additives that are themselves potentially harmful.

Much of the hazard from cigarettes is also from the additives and tars that are carcinogens. When these are burned and inhaled, they put the body at risk. This is why cigars and pipes, though not without risk, are much less harmful than cigarettes even though they both contain tobacco.

This is because the secondary ingredients matter, and if you watch these when vaping, you can certainly reduce any risk you face.

The Hazards of Combustion

Even the most harmless of substances can produce toxic smoke when it is burned. This is a part of chemistry: heat causes transformations. Those transformations are sometimes more harmful than others. A pile of wood that has been painted will give off toxic fumes since the chemicals in the paint will be separated into different compounds by the heat.

This is why ingredients matter so much. The filler in cigarettes literally gives off toxic fumes when it is burned. Even though combustion temperatures are much lower with a vape, chemical reactions can still happen. With more organic vape liquids, especially those with no nicotine, the vapors produced are much less harmful. There are not enough studies yet though to show that they are “harmless.”

Still, the same idea applies. The more organic liquids are certainly better for you than others, and none of them are as harmful as the additives in cigarettes.

The Nicotine Debate

Vapes and cigarettes are both delivery systems for nicotine, at least some of the time. As mentioned above, some vape liquids have no nicotine at all or at least very low amounts. The question is, is nicotine itself harmful?

The answer is multi-faceted. The addictive nature of nicotine as a drug and the effect it has on the brain and nervous system means that yes, it can be harmful. Taken in moderation, nicotine can be a pretty mild addiction though.

Physically, nicotine itself can be a carcinogen. When it is burned, especially in cigarettes in can be harmful. A recent study of the effect of vaporized nicotine in human and mice cells shows that it “could be converted into chemicals that damage DNA in the heart, lungs and bladder, and dampen down the body’s genetic repair mechanisms,” reported The Guardian.

While this is a single study and certainly not definitive, it does raise some cautions about nicotine. Still, the health hazards of vaping are minimal when compared to those of smoking.

Smile for the Camera

Here’s another difference between vaping and smoking: the effect each has on dental health. Smoking clearly stains teeth, but carcinogens in the smoke can actually contribute to forms of oral cancer, another risk for smokers including those who love cigars and pipes.

Vaping has no such effect, although the flavorings in some of the vapor can contain sugars which offers the same risks as eating too much candy or sucking on sugary mints. The oral health risks of smoking are far greater than those of vaping.

Pinch Me

Lastly, smoking also affects your skin. This is for a variety of reasons, but many include how smoke both dries and stains your skin from your fingers to your face. Smokers tend to have more wrinkles, are more susceptible to eczema, and can even develop other skin related issues.

Because vaping generates water vapor rather than smoke, the effect it has on the skin of someone who vapes is essentially non-existent. Skin issues normally endured by smokers often clear up once they switch to vaping.


Vaping is new. The long-term effects of nicotine are a known factor. But compared to smoking, the health hazards of vaping are minimal. Organic liquids and other materials make it even less hazardous. So next time someone quotes you a story saying vaping is just as bad or worse than smoking, you can set them straight.