Is Vaping a Safe Alternative or a Gateway to Smoking?

Thousands of smokers make the switch to vaping each year, and non-smokers often start out with vaping before they move on to cigarettes. Vape pens are among a long list of smoking alternatives, such as tobaccoless dip (Black Buffalo), nicotine patches and gum, CBD oils, and more. The list goes on, but we’re here to talk about vaping in particular, and whether or not it’s a “safe” alternative to cigarettes.

Vaping uses a liquid that’s heated into aerosol form and then inhaled via the unit. While vaping generally tastes and smells better than smoking cigarettes, it’s not necessarily “healthier”, and can still make you want to start smoking or go back to it if you’re quitting.

Let’s look closer at vaping and determine whether or not it’s a good alternative to smoking cigarettes.

Vaping Vs. Smoking

Is there any real difference between smoking and vaping, besides the obvious? Both products contain nicotine, which is a compound that binds directly to certain receptors in the brain and keeps you addicted to tobacco products. Nicotine is highly addictive, and once you start using it, it’s very difficult to stop (as you’ve probably noticed already).

Vape juice is usually discussed as “harmless water vapor”, but according to the American Lung Association, it’s much more than that. Some ingredients found in vape juice include:

  • Nicotine

  • Propylene Glycol

  • Formaldehyde

  • Nickel, tin, or lead

  • Acrolein

  • Diacetyl

While companies continue to advertise their products as “safer” than cigarettes, chemicals such as formaldehyde (embalming fluid), heavy metals like lead, and other unpleasant ingredients still find their way into your lungs. “Popcorn lung” is a common condition that develops from e-cigarette use, in which diacetyl causes scarring on the alveoli, and can cause serious respiratory complications.

Cigarettes, however, contain thousands of chemicals and additives, as tobacco is sprayed with both fertilizer and pesticides. These chemicals wind up in the soil, waterways, and the tobacco plants themselves, and thus, in your cigarette.

Some of the nasty chemicals you’ll find in cigarettes include:

  • Formaldehyde

  • Cadmium

  • Nicotine

  • Arsenic

  • Ammonia

  • Uranium

  • Benzene

  • Lead

  • Hydrogen cyanide

  • Butane

  • Methanol

  • Tar

  • Toluene

  • Hexamine

  • Acetone

Cigarettes do contain more chemicals than vape juice, but that doesn’t mean the latter is healthier or safer. Anytime you breathe something into your lungs, you’re putting your internal systems and risk and potentially causing damage to your airways.


Vaping should be safe, right? You won’t get cancer without all of those chemicals you’d find in a cigarette. Vaping companies will often suggest that vaping is a better alternative and “safer” because it won’t fill your lungs with chemicals. The bottom line is that you’re inhaling something that doesn’t belong in your lungs. The only thing you should be breathing in is air.

The truth is that we’ve had decades to study the effects of cigarettes on humans, but vaping is a relatively new phenomenon. More research is needed to truly define the impacts of the habit, but what is clear is that saying vaping is “healthier” than smoking cigarettes is bold, to say the least.


Nicotine is among the world’s most addictive substances, and it’s present in both cigarettes and vape juice. The naturally-occurring nicotine found in tobacco plants isn’t harmful, per se, but can cause addiction and expose the user to the harmful effects of addiction.

Nicotine has an interesting effect on the body. It’s both a stimulant and a sedative. Nicotine stimulates the adrenal glands, causing a boost of energy and a reduction in feelings of stress and anxiety. It also releases dopamine, which causes the “feel-good” sensation you get from smoking.

Whether or not nicotine is harmful is irrelevant. The fact is, nicotine binds you to a product that’s costing you money, time, and your personal health. Is that something you want to take part in? You’re putting your entire future at risk and becoming completely dependent on a product for everyday function.

Neither Are Good Options

The argument of smoking vs. vaping has only one outcome: neither one is a good option. Both contain harmful chemicals, carry extensive health risks, and drain your wallet of precious resources. If you think your smoking habit is costly, wait until you develop lung, mouth, throat, or some other form of cancer. The treatments are expensive, painful, and extensive; and not always effective.

Putting down cigarettes and nicotine for good is the best way to take control of your health and eliminate the need to compare vapes, cigarettes, and other products.


Whether you’re new to smoking or an experienced smoker, you might think vaping is a healthier way to go. Vaping isn’t’ “healthy”, nor inherently safe, so take caution when picking up the habit. Or, better yet, avoid the habit altogether and buy a gym membership instead, so you can start taking better care of your body!

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