What’s more harmful than a cigarette or a vape: doctors’ opinion

Posted on Aug 1, 2022      10

Everyone knows that smoking is harmful. But hookahs, vapes and other electronic devices are considered by many to be a harmless alternative to cigarettes. Is it really so?

There are no safe substances, mixtures, or smoking methods. Vapes and hookahs in this respect are no better than cigarettes. The health consequences of “vaping” are the same as those of regular smokers.

What is more harmful than a vape or a cigarette?

We can say for sure: Both are dangerous! Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, have calculated that vaping enthusiasts almost double the risk of heart attack, and people who use both electronic and regular cigarettes increase this risk by 5 times!

Let’s figure out which is worse than a cigarette or a vape. By the way, we have already written about the harm of smoking cigarettes. In the same article, there is information about the harm of hookah.

What is the difference between a regular cigarette and a vape

In order to understand what is more harmful than a cigarette or a vape, it is necessary to understand how both work. Let’s walk through the major differences between a vape and a cigarette.

What is a regular cigarette? It is tobacco wrapped in paper with a special filter. When smoking, the tobacco smoke, which contains a huge amount of harmful substances, first enters the body. After that, when exhaled, it enters the environment.

A vape comprises two main parts, the battery and the vaporizer. The heating element of the vaporizer is heated by the energy of the battery and vaporizes the liquid.

Some newer models of e-cigarettes allow users to increase the amount of vapor. Such devices with higher voltage can emit carcinogens, including formaldehyde, at a level comparable to cigarette smoke.

The dangers of tobacco smoke

To write about what harm cigarettes do to the body is endless, so I will try to put it all in brief. The main reason cigarettes are dangerous is the combustion of tobacco smoke, which releases about 250 harmful substances. This number includes 69 carcinogens.

Microscopic particles of tobacco smoke, entering the body, provoke the development of several diseases, from osteoporosis, anemia, infertility and impotence to toxic hepatitis and cancer. Each puff has a devastating effect on DNA (damages the P16 gene) and leads to cancerous mutations. The respiratory organs and cardiovascular system are hit the hardest.

A little about second-hand smoke

However, even if you yourself have never touched a cigarette, stay away from the hostages of the smoking vice. Passive smoking is no less dangerous for the body than active smoking: it not only reduces the brain’s thinking activity, affects the bronchi and lungs, but also increases the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Is a vape harmful or not?

Many people switch to a vape to quit smoking. After all, every other advertisement for e-cigarettes talks about the incredible benefits for smokers. There is no nasty tar in the discharge from a vape like smoking. Gradually reduce the dosage and quit smoking for good. But few people can do it. Is it harmful to smoke a vape and how it affects the body?

Every year the sale of vapes only increases and more and more young people become addicted to nicotine. It turns out that for purposeful adult vaping may help to quit smoking, but for the rest of us it will help to start or aggravate the situation.

Many are also concerned that e-cigarettes, while considered safer, are appealing to teenagers. Their use by middle and high school students has increased from 6 percent to 20 percent in three years (2016 data). Is a vape without nicotine harmful? Yes, and here’s why.

The major components

The major components of an aerosol are propylene glycol and glycerin. Two seemingly harmless substances, but when heated, the first can turn into propylene oxide, which, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, is carcinogenic to humans.

A carcinogen is a substance that contributes to malignant tumors.


The liquids contain nicotine, which increases the risk of many diseases. Among them, we can highlight cardiovascular diseases. And also nicotine contributes to the emergence and development of cancer.

Experiments have shown that the concentration of nicotine in the tests of people who have traded ordinary cigarettes for electronic cigarettes does not change. Either the math is bad, and it is difficult to calculate the dose, or the body can not cheat and with a reduction in the dosage of a person, smokes more.

The major disadvantage of a vape is the difficulty of controlling the dosage. A removable vape cartridge, in terms of its harmful effects, corresponds to a pack of cigarettes, so you need to look at the clock to control the dosage when you use it. I wrote above that some devices allow you to increase the amount of vapor, which makes it worse.

Many people don’t realize how much nicotine they are putting into their bodies and how fast they are doing it. A toxic concentration of 50g of nicotine is reached quickly, so again, you need to watch the timing of your vape used to avoid unpleasant consequences.

Also, the nicotine in a vape is faster and better absorbed. When you smoke a cigarette, the nicotine is already 7 seconds into the brain. When you use a vape, the nicotine enters the brain in 2 seconds.

Because of improper use, nicotine poisoning is on the rise. After all, many people think it smells nice, the puffs of vapor are beautiful, and the rest is nothing.

Symptoms of liquid nicotine poisoning:

  • vomiting;
  • diarrhea;
  • palpitations;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • headache.

There are also liquids without nicotine, but with an assortment of other toxic substances. In addition, no one really checks whether there is nicotine is in them. Neither the cartridges nor the devices themselves are not subject to mandatory certification. So, only the manufacturers know what exactly the device is stuffed with.

Because vapes appeared not so long ago, their effects on the body to date have not been fully studied. So the consequences for health can be unpredictable.


In 2018, scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York tested the hypothesis that nicotine-free e-cigarettes would be less harmful and took apart the flavorings included in them.

It turned out that flavorings are also toxic. For example, they contain diacetyl and acetylpropionyl - toxic chemical compounds. Diacetyl adds flavor. Breathing it in leads to lung scarring or popcorn lung disease.

The disease got its name after hundreds of people who worked in the popcorn industry sustained permanent lung damage.

This is an example of how a lack of control over the composition of e-cigarettes can lead to serious consequences. Sweet and oily flavors such as vanilla and cinnamon have been found to be the most dangerous.


Acrolein has been found in some e-cigarettes in vape liquid. This unsaturated aldehyde is toxic and is mainly used as a weed control agent. It can be formed by heating glycerin, well, and provoke chronic lung diseases.

And also do not forget that the electronic device is explosive. There are many such cases. Here is an example of one of them.

Remember, a vape is not such a safe thing! And even if there is no nicotine in it, it still contains dangerous elements for health.

How is the use of a vape regulated in America?

Recently in the U.S., the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an outbreak of a mysterious lung disease of severe respiratory disease among vaping enthusiasts. Hundreds of cases of the disease are being investigated across the country. Alas, there have already been several deaths.

As a result, the US government seriously intends to prohibit vaping across the country (especially popular among American teenagers), and some states have already introduced an age restriction on its sale.

The San Francisco authorities have already introduced a ban on the sale of electronic devices. It is forbidden to distribute the products in stores, as well as online venues. Manufacturers of vape and e-cigarettes can distribute their products only if their product has been inspected by the Food and Drug Administration and received a certificate of safety. But as you have already guessed, not a single company has been given such permission yet.

Is hookah harmful to the human body?

Now about hookahs. Their fans are confident that this activity does not cause any harm to health. After all, the tobacco in hookahs passes through a water filter. This means that all the poisonous impurities in it remain in the water. Besides, there are absolutely harmless smoke-free hookah mixtures, infused with fruits and vegetables.

Unfortunately, WHO experts do not share these optimistic beliefs. According to experts, filtering smoke through water does not improve the situation: most components of tobacco smoke are not soluble in water. Therefore, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, tar and other toxic substances enter the lungs.

As for the “harmless fruit mixtures”, the products of combustion are harmful to health. They are carcinogenic substances that lead to cancer and other diseases. Plus, smoking hookah increases the risk of catching an infectious disease. For example, the herpes virus or tuberculosis. Alas, even disposable mouthpieces do not guarantee sterility and safety. So draw your own conclusions!

So what’s worse than a cigarette or a vape?

Inhaling nicotine with vapor can significantly reduce its harmful effects, because of less carcinogenic products and smoke formation. But less harmful doesn’t mean safe.

We have found that both cigarettes and vapes are harmful to the body. We can say unequivocally that vaping is the least harmful to the surrounding people. There have been several studies that have shown that nicotine levels in the room where the vapes were used are 10 times less than in the same experiment with cigarettes.

All forms of smoking and using electronic devices are harmful to health. But most experts agree that a vape is less harmful than cigarettes.

But most of the harm from smoking has been found in long-term studies, and cancer usually shows up later in life. E-cigarettes are relatively young and we just don’t have the results of long-term studies. We’ll just have to wait to see what happens.