Are you thinking about swapping cigarettes for vaping?
Are you thinking about swapping cigarettes for vaping?

As hundreds of thousands of people make it their New Year’s resolution to quit smokingvarious health organisations are telling smokers to put down the rolling tobacco and pick up a vape pen. But should they? Is vaping really safe?

What's the most dangerous thing about smoking?

One of the most harmful things about smoking tobacco is the tar produced by burning and inhaling a cigarette. This tar is inhaled when you breathe in, and then it just hangs around. Thick, viscous lumps of sticky carcinogenic tar, clogging your airways and filling your lungs.

If you could see it, you’d want to quit straight away.

So Public Health England devised an experiment so that you can see the tar you inhale. Be warned. It’s not pretty.

The Public Health England experiment

In this video, Public Health England perform a quick experiment. They set up three bell jars filled with cotton wool to represent the human lung.

One has a month’s worth of tobacco smoke pumped through, one has a month’s worth of vape from a vape juice, and one has a month’s worth of air.

There’s very little difference between the vaper’s “lung” and the jar with nothing pumped in to it. Some slight discolouration on one cotton ball, but that’s about all that showed up.

In comparison, the tobacco “lung” looks like it’s full of marmite and stale beer. Thick globs of tar clogging up all of the cotton. Tar so thick that you can spread it.

Just by looking at the results, you can come to the conclusion that yes, vaping is safe. Especially compared to smoking.

Vaping is tar-free, but what about other dangers?

OK, so an ecigarette doesn’t produce tar. But we’ve all seen the scare stories in the papers.

What about the people being poisoned by nicotine overdoses? What about the exploding batteries?

Well here’s the thing.

The safest products in the world can be dangerous if they’re used incorrectly. And most of the scare stories we read about ecigarettes all stem from people doing things they’ve been explicitly told not to do.

Let’s look at nicotine poisoning. To ingest enough nicotine to harm an adult, you’d need to drink multiple bottles of eliquids. Bottles with big labels on them saying “DO NOT DRINK THIS ELIQUID.”

It’s the same with batteries. People are given in-depth advice on vaping safely, and then they plug their batteries into the wrong kind of charger, sleep with this charging battery on their pillow, and then get upset when the piece of technology they’re mistreating backfires.

If used properly, vaping materials aren’t a hazard to life and limb.

So, is vaping safe?

We’re not sure that’s the right question. Vaping is as safe as it can be if you follow the guidelines and safety information provided by retailers and product developers, but it’s all a matter of what you’re comparing it to.

The real question to ask is this: is vaping safer than smoking cigarettes?

“[E cigarettes] carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes.” -NHS Smokefree

We’re inclined to agree with Public Health England’s findings and say yes. Yes it is.


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