Vaping and smoking are not the same thing. In the UK at least, only ardent anti-vaping activists – less so legislators – seem intent on drawing major parallels between the two (especially when it comes to effects on health). Yet, when comparing the two, just how does vaping stack up against conventional cigarette smoking – not least in terms of health risks? Is it merely a lesser of two evils; something for smokers to turn to because it’s not quite as damaging to their bodies? Or is a fundamentally preferable activity?
Health risks – smoking
Yes, by now – in the second decade of the 21st Century, as we are – the enormously harmful potential to one’s health of tobacco smoking is very well documented. To start with, conventional cigarettes contain what’s referred to as tar (several different particles that themselves comprise a large number of different carcinogens) and then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s thousands more hazardous chemicals in each ciggie, more than 70 of which are known to be definitely carcinogenic.
Thanks to all these dreadfully potent ingredients then, smoking has the potential to cause everything from minor issues like coughs to serious disorders such as lung cancer and heart diseases. Indeed, according to research gleaned from cancer.org, the act of smoking accounts for the deaths of around six million people every single year – that makes it the number one culprit for avoidable deaths around the world.
Health risks – vaping
As noted, the most vehement ant-vapers consistently claim vaping is highly harmful, but is this true? Well, quite frankly, given that all e-cigarette brands and products – including the likes of SMOK Vape – contain among their ingredients the chemical that’s nicotine (the addictive element of conventional cigarettes), the biggest health risk that can be attributed to them is dependence; thus, the potential for ex-smokers to back-slide to tobacco-featuring cigarettes and all the aforementioned harmful junk they feature.
This is really the biggest health risk of vaping? Yes, because so far, no source has convincingly come up with anything greater. Of course, there’s a good deal of ongoing debate here (most importantly among academic professionals undertaking research on the topic), but according to a 2015 report by the UK’s Department of Health, e-cigarettes are at least 95 percent safer than their tobacco-driven, conventional counterparts. Moreover, the report categorically recognises vaping as a viable way to try and quit smoking (something that the American Heart Association cautiously agreed with in a 2014 statement), which, indeed, may somewhat invalidate the idea that there’s considerable danger of back-sliding from e-cigs to tobacco-based ciggies too.
Money-wise, vaping also compares very favourably. Even if, should you be purchasing cheap cigarettes (for instance, roll-ups) as opposed to the nowadays heavily taxed premium brand equivalents, you’ll still be having to buy a large number of ciggies and/ or tobacco to feed your habit. Cigarette smokers can easily spend in excess of £200 a month. By contrast, vaping requires an initial outlay on a vaporiser – in, by far, the most expensive instance one may set you back around £200 – but then the e-juices you buy to fill the vaporiser with are, frankly, cheap as chips – not least compared to most packs of cigarettes.
At the present time, vaping is more legally ‘accepted’ than smoking; it’s not banned from as many enclosed spaces (workplaces and leisure venues) as conventional cigarettes, therefore, already it’s avoiding the sort of social stigma that smoking has built for itself over recent decades. Additionally, in terms of social acceptability in the open air, vaping has established a one-up for itself over cigarettes thanks to its smoke often not seeming to smell of anything (and, if it does, it’s often of a sweet, appealing flavour thanks to the e-juice in the vaporiser), thus ensuring non-smokers don’t cross the road to try to avoid inhaling unpleasant – and harmful – second-hand smoke as might with cigarettes. And none of that’s to mention the fact that e-cigs will do nothing to an enthusiast’s outward appearance – the likes of discoloured teeth, nails and skin simply aren’t a danger. Nor is there bad breath and germ-spreading from a hacking ‘smoker’s cough’.
When all’s said and done then, vaping is indeed highly preferable to conventional smoking and, owing to the fact so far no major health risks have been unearthed that e-cigs and e-juices may cause, it’s surely not fair to label the activity as the lesser of two evils. It doesn’t harm you – or others – so how could it be deemed ‘evil’ or, rather, harmful? Undoubtedly, it’s a fine thing for (ex-)smokers to turn to as they try to kick the hazardous habit of tobacco – and possibly something to turn to for beyond merely that too.