Vaping has become essentially ubiquitous in America. There are headlines ranging from
news of Juul’s $38 billion valuation to the rise of teen vaping. Most of the headlines about
vaping, however, are quite negative—particularly regarding the health effects of vaping.
This may be especially relevant to you if you are intrigued with vaping, yet haven’t tried
out of fear of illness or some other health problem.
Unfortunately, many conversations about health and vaping often rely on rumors and
misguided arguments. They stoke fear in the eyes of potential or current vaporizer users
—even though many of these critics’ arguments are tenuous at best.
We are here to change that discussion.
Ultimately, vaping has been unfairly criticized for adverse health effects, even though
vaping is safer than smoking. By clearing up some of the misconceptions, you will be able
to understand the consequences of vaping before you get started.
Vaping: Health Misconceptions and Truths
So let’s start with the loudest misconception that vaping is somehow more dangerous
than smoking. Often, studies in the media about the dangers of vaping as compared to
cigarettes are misleading and contradictory. For instance, one common fear of vaping is
that vaping causes “popcorn lung” in vaporizer users. Popcorn lung is a condition that
makes it difficult to breathe. However, the media often doesn’t state that diacetyl, the
chemical that causes popcorn lung, is also found in ordinary cigarettes at a rate of 100
times higher than that found in vaporizers.
The critics have it backward. Vaping is safer than smoking. In fact, the National
Academy of Sciences, which is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization, released a
report last year stating that the use of vaporizers and e-cigarettes is much safer than
smoking and that there are no long-term health effects associated with vaping. Specifically,
the National Academy of Sciences’ report concluded that second-hand aerosol from
vaping is safer than second-hand tobacco smoke, that vaping is less addicting than
smoking, that switching from smoking to vaping can improve respiratory function and
symptoms in individuals who have COPD or asthma, and that switching from smoking to
vaping reduces overall health risks.
The conclusions are overwhelming—especially considering the rhetoric from anti-
tobacco groups and state health departments who have argued that vaping is worse
than smoking. Yet the National Academy of Sciences is not alone. The American
Cancer Society admitted that vaping provides a reduced risk compared to smoking. The
Office of the Surgeon General of the United States said that the effects of e-cigarettes
on the human body resemble the effects on the body from nicotine gum, patches and
lozenges. This is just a collection of the respected authorities that have implicitly
disagreed with those loud individuals and groups that provide flimsy evidence on the
dangers of vaping.
In addition, there have been other studies around the world that have shown that vaping
is safer than smoking. For instance, Public Health England, an executive agency of the
Department of Health and Social Care in the United Kingdom, concluded that vaping is
95% less harmful than tobacco. Because of this, the UK government recently launched a
campaign to convince UK smokers that vaping is not as harmful as smoking and, in fact,
is a great way to actually quit smoking. Data from Public Health England’s smoking
cessation program revealed that 65% to 68% of people who used e-cigarettes along
with nicotine replacement therapies successfully stopped smoking. A good number of
countries around the world have strong laws on vaping—whether that is due to strong
voices within the anti-vaping community or something else. But the bottom line is that
studies have shown that vaping is less dangerous than smoking cigarettes.
Clarifying the Misconceptions
Vaporizers and e-cigarettes are extremely popular. In fact, almost one in 20 U.S. adults
now use e-cigarettes. While their motives may vary, all of them obtain one simple
benefit. That benefit is that vaping is safer than smoking.
Ultimately, the vaping naysayers do not have science on their side. Whether you haven’t
yet vaped or are a regular user of vaporizers or e-cigarettes, you should understand that
much of the vaping criticism is misguided. Nothing should stop you from doing your own
research. If you choose to, however, you will discover that the critics’ arguments have
little to no merit.