Smoking vs. vaping is a heated debate amongst those that prefer either. Whether it is vaping and smoking cannabis products, or vaping and smoking nicotine-based products, there seems to be an argument from both sides as to which one is better. In this article we are going to break it down piece by piece and allow you to formulate your own opinion as to which one is better for you and more suitable for your lifestyle.

What is Smoking?

Britannica defines smoking as “the act of inhaling and exhaling the fumes of burning plant material. A variety of plant materials are smoked, including marijuana and hashish, but the act is most commonly associated with tobacco as smoked in a cigarette, cigar, or pipe.” So, in basic terms, smoking is when you inhale the smoke from a dried material that has been set aflame.

What is Vaping?

Merriam Webster defines vaping as the process of inhaling “vapour through the mouth from a usually battery-operated electronic device (such as an electronic cigarette) that heats up and vapourizes a liquid or solid substance.” In basic terms this means that vaping is the process of inhaling a vapour that is produced by heating liquid or solid substance that has not come in direct contact with flame but rather a heating element.

Smoking Statistics

According to the CDC, roughly 15.5% of U.S. adults smoked cigarettes in 2016 with 71% of those consumers smoking on a daily basis. For those who are wondering that is roughly 37.8 million adults that reportedly smoked cigarettes in 2016. The largest prevalence of smokers was among American Indians and Alaska Natives. The report also found that more smokers were male. The CDC also reports that "Cigarette smoking kills more than 480,000 Americans each year, with more than 41,000 of these deaths from exposure to secondhand smoke."

Vaping Statistics

According to the CDC, in 2016 more than 2 million U.S. middle and high school students used vaping devices at least once within a 30-day period. That is 4.3% of middle school students and 11.3% of high school students. As for adults, their report showed that only 3.2% of adults used vaping devices regularly. Of those 3.2%, nearly 29% were former smokers, nearly 59% were current cigarette smokers, and 11.4% of them had never smoked cigarettes before. Of current vape users between the age of 18-24 years old, 40% have never smoked cigarettes.

The Positive and Negative Effects of Smoking

According to Live Science there are some possible benefits to smoking on a regular basis which are outlined below.

  • A study out of Australia showed that those who smoke on a regular basis are less likely to require a knee replacement surgery.
  • A study published in the medical journal called Neurology in 2010 concluded that those who smoked regularly were less likely to develop Parkinson's disease.
  • A study in the journal Physiology & Behavior, it concluded that smokers were less likely to become morbidly obese.

These positive effects however rarely outweigh the dangers of smoking. Here are some stats from the Center for Disease Control in regard to the dangers of smoking.

  • Cigarettes are the cause for nearly 1 in every 5 deaths in the United States.
  • Smoking causes more deaths annually than HIV, alcohol, illegal drugs, motor vehicle accidents and firearm related incidents combined.
  • Smoking causes roughly 90% of all lung cancer related deaths.
  • Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 2-4 times.
  • Smoking causes an odor on individuals who smoke as well as their clothing and in their homes. It can also stain your skin and teeth after prolonged use.
  • Smoking can also cause cancer in many different places throughout the body including but not limited to the following;
  • Bladder
  • Blood (acute myeloid leukemia)
  • Cervix
  • Colon and rectum (colorectal)
  • Esophagus
  • Kidney and ureter
  • Larynx
  • Liver
  • Oropharynx (includes parts of the throat, tongue, soft palate, and the tonsils)
  • Pancreas
  • Stomach
  • Trachea, bronchus, and lung

The Positive and Negative Effects of Vaping

According to Vaping Daily some of the common side effects of vaping include but are not limited to the following;

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Cough
  • Dry skin
  • Itchiness
  • Dry eyes
  • Insomnia (mainly a quitting side effect)
  • Nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums

A worldwide survey also showed that some current and former smokers that vape have experienced the following;

  • Dry mouth
  • Sore mouth
  • Headache
  • Tongue inflammation
  • Black tongue
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Allergies
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing problems

Unlike smoking, the only fatalities related to vaping have been in direct relation to a device malfunction or improper use of vaping devices. When you look at these statistics, it is easy to see why many consider vaping to be the safer alternative to smoking on many different levels. Some of the benefits to vaping in comparison to smoking aside from the obvious health risks are as follows;

  • Vaping is odorless or produces a typically pleasant odor unlike the odor from smoking that many considered to be very foul.
  • Vaping does not stain skin, nails, or teeth like smoking does.
  • Vaping drastically reduces the risk of second-hand smoke related issues.
  • While the initial cost to start vaping is generally more expensive, long-term vaping is much cheaper than smoking.
  • Vaping requires no open flame thus eliminating the fire hazard risks presented by smoking.

What We Know and What We Don’t

Smoking has been something people have enjoyed for decades; however, vaping is a newly popular trend. This means that we know a lot about smoking and not so much about vaping. Does that mean that in time we will discover that vaping is just as bad as smoking? It is hard to say. At this time though we do not know the long-term effects of regular inhalation or exposure to vapour from vaping devices.

Unlike smoking, with vaping there are no harmful carcinogens caused by combustion however, when inhaling vapour, you are technically inhaling aerosol which does contain other compounds that could potentially be harmful to your health with prolonged exposure.


As you can see, there are many differences between smoking and vaping. While we do not currently know the specific health risks of vaping for prolonged times, we are well aware of the dangers of smoking. For this reason, many individuals believe it is worth the risk and believe that vaping is a healthier and safer alternative to smoking.

Many people believe that it is the nicotine that is harmful in cigarettes, when that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Nicotine is what you are addicted to, the harmful parts of a cigarette however come from the hundreds of foreign substances in which are added to them during manufacturing.

With vaping, consumers are not exposed to hundreds of random substances and for the most part, know exactly what is in the e-liquid or vape juice that they are consuming. So, which is better? Smoking or vaping? At this point it is safe to safe that smoking is dangerous, but enough information is not available to definitively say that vaping is the safer alternative.


We are only offering general advice and our personal knowledge surrounding the topic of smoking vs. vaping. We are not medical professionals nor are we recommending that you do either. Any information contained within this article, or on this website is meant to be general information and should not be considered medical advice. If you have questions about smoking or vaping and are concerned about your health, we always recommend reaching out to a licensed medical care provider for guidance.

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