Woman holding a cigarette and a vape

Is Vaping Better for Your Health Than Smoking?

Advancements in technology have impacted almost everything, including the way people smoke. Vapes, or electronic cigarettes, are becoming a popular way to inhale nicotine, especially among younger people. Vaping is often referred as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes, but it is possible that e-cigarettes can affect the health of users in other ways. Learn more about vaping and whether it is better for you than smoking cigarettes.

What Is Vaping?

Vaping is a way to smoke with an e-cigarette that is either rechargeable or disposable. Larger handheld devices called mods can also be used to vape. Most vapes come with a battery, a heating element and a place to hold a liquid that usually contains nicotine.1 The part that holds the liquid is called a cartridge or pod, and on bigger vaping devices they are called tanks. When a vape device is fully charged, the user presses a button on the device to heat up the liquid and produce an aerosol to inhale.1 The aerosol is exhaled out in the form of a cloudy vapor.

Why Do People Think Vaping Is Better than Cigarettes?

Vaping is sometimes considered to be a better alternative to cigarettes for a few reasons. Unlike cigarettes, vape aerosols do not leave behind a strong smoky smell that can cling to clothing. Vaping is also technically less harmful than cigarettes, as they do not contain as many toxic chemicals:1 cigarettes can contain a mixture of about 7,000 chemicals including tobacco, which is not found in most vaping cartridges.2  However, vapes can contain metals such as nickel, tin, and lead.  There are plenty of toxic chemicals in vaping aerosols, and the exact number of chemicals in them is still unknown. 

What Do E-Cigarette Aerosols Contain?

Aerosols may just look like a cloud of smoke, but they are often made up of other chemicals which can be harmful to inhale. Aside from nicotine, e-cigarette aerosols may also contain heavy metals like nickel, tin, and lead, volatile organic compounds and certain cancer-causing chemicals.1 Most vape liquids, which are sometimes referred to as “vape juice” are artificially flavored, and many of these flavorings contain chemicals that can lead to serious lung diseases.1

What Other Health Risks Can Come from Vaping?

Even if e-cigarettes have less chemicals than cigarettes, they can still contain nicotine. In fact, some vape cartridges are made with higher concentrations of nicotine, and the voltage of an e-cigarette can be increased for bigger hits.2 Nicotine is a very addictive substance that can raise your blood pressure and have a negative effect on brain development in young adults and adolenscents.2,3 Vaping can also cause swelling and irritation in the lungs and can lead to lung conditions like asthma and lung scarring.4 

The Dangers of EVALI

In addition to asthma and lung scarring, vaping can also put you at risk for lung diseases that specifically come from e-cigarette use. E-cigarette/vaping product use associated lung injury (EVALI) is a serious lung condition that can occur with vaping.4

Recent EVALI outbreaks have hospitalized thousands of people, with most of the severe cases being people younger than 35.4 Symptoms of EVALI include coughing, chest pains, shortness of breath, fever, diarrhea, stomach pains and increased heart rate.4 Not much is known about this condition, but it is possible that vitamin E acetate found in some vape juices may be the cause.4 

Can Vaping Help You Quit Smoking?

E-cigarettes are often cited as devices that can help people stop smoking, but there is not enough evidence to prove this.5 Vaping may help you quit smoking, but it is unlikely that it will help you quit nicotine use.4 Although vaping has helped some people quit cigarettes, around 80 percent of smokers who switched to e-cigarettes still continued to vape.4 Plus, research shows that cigarette smokers who try vaping are more likely to end up using them both alongside each other.5 If you are looking to quit smoking, try proven smoking cessation therapies first before considering vaping as an option.5 And since vaping is still a relatively new phenomenon, its potential long-term effects are still unknown.Vaping is not approved by the FDA as an effective way to quit smoking.1

To try and break free from nicotine dependency, explore approved nicotine replacement therapy products like gum, lozenges and patches to kickstart your journey toward quitting.4 Nicorette Gum and Nicorette Lozenges are great-tasting products that satisfy your cravings and keep your mouth feeling fresh. For discreet, wearable relief, stick a NicoDerm CQ Patch under your clothes to ease your cravings for up to 24 hours.

Finding Healthy Ways to Quit Smoking 

While vaping may not be as harmful as smoking cigarettes, it can still have negative effects on your health and is not worth the risk of potential long-term effects. Browse through Nicorette’s Help with Quitting hub to get helpful tips on setting up your quitting plan and dealing with nicotine withdrawals.

  1. About Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/about-e-cigarettes.html Accessed 4/19/2023.
  2. 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vaping Accessed 4/19/2023.
  3. The facts on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/ Accessed 4/19/2023.
  4. Vaping (E-Cigarettes). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/21162-vaping Accessed 4/19/2023.
  5. Is Vaping Better Than Smoking? The American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking-tobacco/is-vaping-safer-than-smoking Accessed 4/19/2023.