What is vaping? Is it healthier than smoking? If so, why do some studies such as the infamous formaldehyde letter keep pointing out that vaping is at least as harmful as cigarettes, if not more harmful than combustible smoke?
To answer these questions, we’ll have to break down the main differences between vaping and smoking, including how it’s done, the ingredients that both vaping and smoking consist of, cost, and more.
Both smokers and vapers use an “item” to deliver smoke into their lungs. The main difference between the two is in the “item” used.
As most of us know, smokers use cigarettes, which they light up in order to produce inhalable smoke. If they want to continue smoking, smokers throw out the bud and light up another cigarette. Cigarettes are non-reusable.
There are three major “items” that people use to inhale their vape. All of these “items” are electronic devices that are commonly referred to as e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes usually fall into one of these three distinct categories:
● Minis (Cigalikes)
● Vape Pens
● Mods (APVs – Advanced Personal Vaporizers)
Minis are small electronic devices that closely resemble a combustible cigarette (which is why they are also known as cigalikes). Minis are available as both rechargeable and disposable models, and you can even buy one at your local gas station at a reasonable price. However, they are somewhat short in battery life, flavor options, and general customizability as well.
Vape pens are larger electronic devices that follow the shape of a pen, and this is where their name is derived from. Vape pens are slightly larger and bulkier than minis, but they tend to perform better when it comes to battery life, customizability, and e-juice flavors (e-juice is the liquid that goes into these pens and later provides the aerosol to be inhaled).
Finally, there are Mods or Advanced Personal Vaporizers (APVs in short). These electronic devices are the most customizable of the three but are usually more expensive and harder to find as is. However, this is the preferred device for the majority of advanced vapers because it offers everything the first two e-cigarettes do, and more. Because of their build, Mods are usually pricier than both cigalikes and vape pens. If you’re interested, you can even order them from trusted vape retailers (we recommend our friends over at Vaper Empire and smokingthings.com)
Both vaping and cigarettes produce smoke, so what’s the big difference here? The major difference that confuses the majority of people are the ingredients that produce the smoke of these two separate items.
To produce smoke, smokers have to light up the cigarette, which leads to tobacco combustion. This chemical process releases thousands of chemicals, 20 of which have a strong correlation to being the main cause of cancer. These chemicals are commonly referred to as “carcinogens”, and some of them include:
● Hydrogen Cyanide
● Carbon Monoxide
As we mentioned above, many of these chemicals have a strong correlation to causing a number of different diseases, including heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and more. But more importantly, these chemicals aren’t found in the cigarette itself but are rather by-products of the combustion of the tobacco leaf.
The process of vaping doesn’t require anything to undergo the combustion stage, which removes dozens of harmful chemicals right from the get-go. In fact, vaping aerosol contains only a few of these chemicals, as compared to the 20+ in tobacco smoke. Here are just a few of the ingredients found in vapor:
● Propylene Glycol (PG, Vegetable oil)
● Vegetable Glycerol (VG)
All other chemicals that are found in vaping aerosol are usually part of the flavoring. A high-quality e-juice flavoring mostly contains food-grade ingredients which are 100% safe to consume. However, these ingredients are meant to be ingested, and not inhaled, so further research may be needed to determine their real impact on human health.
When you compare smoking and vaping, the cost for each is a major difference. As a whole, vaping is a little more expensive to get into, however, it is actually much more affordable in the long run compared to smoking. The price of smoking can heavily vary depending on the number of cigarettes that you smoke each day.
Here’s how the prices compare in a nutshell:
The Cost of Smoking
A pack of 20 tobacco cigarettes can be bought for around $13 in New York. Assuming the average smoker will buy somewhere around 5 packs a week ($65), we can now add these numbers up to about $260 a month, which adds to about $3120 a year, respectively. Plus, these numbers only refer to those who buy 5 packs a week; for heavier smokers (one pack a day) the costs are even higher: $4368 — and that’s before adding up the health-related costs and increased prices of additional insurance as well.
The Cost of Vaping
To buy an electronic cigarette starter kit that will last you at least one year, you’d have to pay out at least 50 bucks (or more, depending on the brand and quality of your preferred device). However, the good news is that this is the most expensive part of vaping. Once you’ve made your choice and decided which vape starter kit you want to purchase, you can expect to spend at least $15 a week to supply your device with e-juice. That leads to spending about $60 a month or $720 a year for replenishing your vape juice – and that’s if you vape a lot.
From the math above, you can clearly see that vaping is by far the more affordable alternative of the two ($3120 a year for smoking as compared to $770 a year to vape). Plus, vaping allows you to control the number of puffs that you take without having to needlessly spend your e-juice.
Debunking Bogus Claims
Finally, what gives with the formaldehyde letter that we mentioned above? The letter claimed that, when sufficiently heated, e-cigarettes tend to produce formaldehyde from the breaking down of another substance called “glycol.”
That right there lays the major problem of the study.
Fact is, not one sane vaper would dare to heat their device to such intense temperatures. Plus, e-cigarettes themselves also aren’t able to reach such high temperatures anyway. In other words, the formaldehyde study produced results which are not replicable in the real-world usage of e-cigs.