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Research - Vaping vs smoking

Vaping vs Smoking: The Research They Don’t Want You to See

With the advent of the vaporizer, industry proponents and advocates have naturally marketed the platform’s inherently cleaner emissions compared to its analog cigarette counterpart. For traditional enthusiasts, this was the main reason why they made the switch from a known harmful and addictive format to one that has demonstrated a considerably more palatable experience.

Speak to any random vaper and you’ll likely encounter the same motif – vaporizers are cleaner going in, and the resultant emissions are tolerable to outsiders, even to the point of being described as pleasant. Still, ignorance abounds with any new technology, and the vaporizer platform is no different. Due to its aesthetic similarities to the traditional format, anti-smoking advocacy groups and the general public erroneously associate vaping with smoking.

But just how much cleaner is the vaping platform? From countless personal experiences, enthusiasts testify that e-cigarettes not only taste better but engender significant improvements in overall personal outlook. Unless these positive testimonials are backed by rigorous scientific analyses, though, the broader society still views vaping with suspicion.

Thankfully, we have a multitude of scientific research that confirms what vape enthusiasts have known all along – that vaping is considerably cleaner than tobacco products, and that “digital” emissions are exceptionally less offensive than combustion-based nicotine and tobacco byproducts.

Below, we will list some of the top vaping studies that have been released, summarizing key points and presenting objective research and analyses. We hope that with this information, you and your family can make the best, most educated decisions about vaping!


Second-Hand Vaping: More Myth Than Reality:

Recently, my Vapor Authority colleagues and I caught radio programs running advertisements produced by anti-vaping advocacy groups. Their well-intentioned but completely misguided and misinformed public service announcements suggested that second-hand vaping, just like second-hand smoking, is harmful to passersby.

The problem with this type of fear-mongering is that on paper, the assumption sounds logical and reasonable. Vaping emissions, while far more pleasant-smelling than the smoke produced from analog cigarettes, nevertheless has a strong, unmistakable aura.

One whiff, and you can immediately tell someone was enjoying a session, even if you’re a non-enthusiast!

But is there actually any scientific data to support the second-hand vaping thesis? After all, vaping utilizes a completely different process (vaporization) to produce its experience, as opposed to analog cigarettes, which must burn their materials through combustion. In turn, combustion emits harmful byproducts that have been proven to be deleterious to both smoker and nearby individuals.

That said, with vaping, the evidence is extremely thin that the practice causes harm to surrounding non-vapers. According to a 2014 study sponsored by BMC Public Health, researchers discovered that while vaporizer emissions did contain chemical elements, the amounts (measured in parts per million, or PPM) were so insignificant that they hardly warrant the level of concern and borderline hysteria seen in certain mainstream media outlets.

The BMC study specifically compared the presence of multiple chemicals against the most stringent Threshold Limit Values (TLV). TLVs are scientifically and universally accepted exposure guidelines imposed on workplaces. To assure the most accurate and safest conclusion, BMC scientists measured chemical exposure against the world’s most conservative TLV standards.

If you’re an anti-vaping zealot, you probably shouldn’t read this study! For every known chemical that vaporizers emit, when directly measured, the ratio against TLVs were far below the 50% threshold where safety warnings and precautions are advised. Even when researchers applied a safety factor of 10 on the tested emission chemicals, all the ratings were still below 100% TLV.

Below is a quick sample of the researchers’ data:

Vaping Emissions Data

As you can see, the highest concentration among these inorganic chemicals was cadmium. However, even with this “distinction,” the cadmium ratio against the most stringent TLV was 1%. This is obviously well below the 50% threshold in which workplace safety regulations would sound caution for dangerous cadmium exposure.

So does second-hand vaping exist? It sure does! But anti-vaping organizations miss the most important point – chemicals from vaporizer emission occur only in trace amounts and consistently register underneath the most conservative exposure-level warning indicators.


Vaping is Inarguably Cleaner Than Smoking:

While no reputable entity or organization has yet to make the claim that vaporizers pose the exact same risk factors as analog cigarettes, the implication is that vaping is only marginally better than smoking. The misunderstanding is that vaping is just like smoking, only through an electronic channel.

Such thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. The vaping material, or e-juice, is heated through the vaporization process up to the combustion point, but never above it (assuming of course a legitimately designed, properly working vaporizer in an unmodified, factory format). The key point here is that e-juices are never burned.

The same cannot be said about analog cigarettes. Since the heating element is external to the system, cigarettes necessarily invoke the combustion process to burn the tobacco leaf materials. But this process not only burns tobacco but other elements, such as the paper rolls and over 4,000 harmful chemicals, around the central material.

Combustion unfortunately spreads chemicals and toxins in greater proportions, density, and volume. That’s what makes cigarettes scientifically and empirically more harmful than vaporizers. Not only that, the magnitude of comparison is exponentially large.

Among the controversial chemical emissions of both vaporizers and cigarettes is formaldehyde. Used in building materials, formaldehyde made shocking headlines a few years ago when an American lumber company was accused of selling products that exceeded U.S. standards. Due to its potential for causing serious harm, it’s obviously imperative that formaldehyde emissions are kept to an absolute minimum.

According to the aforementioned BMC vaping study, vaporizers emitted on average around 0.007 PPM of formaldehyde. In contrast, analog cigarettes whipped out a massive 0.19 PPM, according to a National Institute of Health-sponsored study. To put this into greater context, the difference between cigarette and vaping formaldehyde emissions is a whopping 2,614%!
Formaldehyde in E-Juice
What was perhaps most astounding between the BMC and NIH vaping studies is that multiple times, vaporizers emit formaldehyde at a level not too dissimilar from those levels found as a residual byproduct in a kindergarten room. According to the NIH, a kindergarten room that researchers used as a control environment discovered trace formaldehyde in the amount of 0.005 PPM.

Since vaporizers on average emit 0.007 PPM, this translates to a magnitude difference of only 40%. Between a kindergarten room and analog cigarette emissions, the difference skyrockets to another dimension – an unbelievable 3,700%!

Keep in mind, though, that for vaporizer emissions, these are average figures; that is to say, vaporizers sometimes emit more formaldehyde than kindergarten rooms, but in other times, far less. The lowest level recorded in the BMC study was 0.002 PPM, which is actually 60% lower than found in the kindergarten room.

We’re not suggesting that vaporizers are safer than kindergarten rooms, or that it’s okay to vape around children. What the evidence does say, though, is that vaporizers are overwhelmingly cleaner platforms than traditional, analog cigarettes.

The raw numbers are too massively discrepant to argue otherwise.


Can Vaping Improve Lung Functionality?

Rarely in life are pleasurable, leisurely activities good for your health. We don’t know a single soul who wouldn’t want to wolf down a double or triple-stacked hamburger with toasty-hot, salted French fries. But we all know the risks of eating too heavily, and that typically prevents many people from overindulging.

Such dynamics fall under the general category that life is not fair. But over the past few years, a number of vaping studies have suggested that the art of cloud chasing can actually improve lung functionality. Does this mean that you can vape to your heart’s content and that you’ll be all the better for it?

In some levels, these studies legitimately confirm that vaping has significant personal benefits. The science matches end-user testimonials and other anecdotal accounts that vape enthusiasts notice conspicuous advantages over their prior smoking habits.

With that said, we must be absolutely clear – vaping may improve lung functionality relative to prior, acutely damaging practices. However, any reputable vape retailer, such as Vapor Authority, will tell you that if you aren’t already a smoker, you should avoid using nicotine-based e-liquids. That way, if you want to quit vaping for personal reasons, you can do so without the challenge of overcoming nicotine addiction. And with the plethora of 0mg nicotine e-juices available, this is exceptionally easy to accomplish.

Another point that needs to be stressed is that vaping may improve functionality towards your body’s normal capacity. However, the digital art does not provide net gains against baseline functionality. An enthusiast should never be tempted to go the analog route, and then use vaporizers to return to a normal state. More often than not, smokers risk long-term and perhaps permanent damage – the costs to self are simply not worth the smoking habit if it can be avoided.

Nevertheless, those who have shifted over to the vaporizer platform may experience profound and substantive changes. According to a November 2017 study that was published by, researchers discovered the following about frequent vapers who had never smoked before:


  • No noticeable declines in the maximum volume of air exhaled
  • No signs of respiratory problems
  • No evidence of lung inflammation while vaping
  • No indicators of lung damage


These benefits are undoubtedly impressive. However, you should be aware that the study’s time frame at three-and-a-half years is lengthy for the vaporizer industry, but hardly decisive in measuring and forecasting long-term impact. In addition, the sampling size of this vaping study is small – only nine people completed the experiment.

Why so few? The researchers’ primary challenge was the difficulty in finding vapers who had previously not smoked before. Most vapers at the time the study was initiated were ex-smokers, and their past behaviors may have contributed to significant lung damage, and thereby, would have distorted test results. Thus, any vape study that makes significant claims should be re-examined closely – for instance, who are the test subjects, and did their experiences affect the study’s conclusion?

Still, from the evidence that the scientific community is collecting about “fresh” vapers and those transitioning from the analog platform, we can be confident that vaping benefits are much more likely to be genuine rather than hype.


Can Vaping Help You Quit Smoking?

Vaping is often touted among the industry’s adherents that it’s the cleaner platform relative to analog cigarettes. Based on what we have discovered above, this is more than a fair assessment.

But the holy grail of vaping studies is confirmation as to whether or not the digital format can help smokers quit the practice entirely. That is, can vaporizers catalyze enough motivation that an individual walks away from both e-cigs and regular cigarettes?

Until we have firm vaping studies that demonstrates the “quitting power” of
Quit Smoking with Vaping
vaporizers, opponents to cigarettes and e-cigs will counter that an individual’s habits merely shifts from one platform to another. What then would be the net societal gains from vaporizers?

Given that the industry is so young, researchers and scientists are at a significant disadvantage when it comes to longer-term vaping studies. On the other hand, cigarettes have several decades of data that can be analyzed. Nevertheless, that hasn’t deterred investigators to truly quantify the vaping industry’s supposed advantages.

One study published by healthcare services BMJ analyzed the effectiveness of vaporizers as cessation devices. Researchers analyzed four sets of subjects – those who never used vape devices, those who did but quit at an unknown time prior to the end-of-study questionnaire, those who quit sometime inside one year prior to the questionnaire, and finally, those who consistently used vaporizers.

The results were only surprising in that they completely matched expectations. For test subjects who never used vaporizers, less than 38% attempted to quit smoking. Those who initially tried vaporizers but stopped their usage attempted to quit smoking 48.4% to 48.8% of the time. However, slightly more than 65% of subjects who vaped somewhat consistently attempted to quit.

Significantly, subjects who failed to use vaporizers consistently never hit the 50% quitting attempt as an aggregate. It would appear that the addictiveness of traditional nicotine-based platforms is too much of a burden for most people to overcome without outside assistance (ie. a vaporizer).

More importantly, the actual success rate of quitting is significantly higher when vaporizers are part of the equation. Only 4.6% of non-vape users were successful in their attempts to quit smoking, while 5.3% to 5.4% of inconsistent vapers found victory over the stogs. Consistent vapers, though, managed to score an 8.2% quitting success rate.

Critics might point out that these are somewhat surprisingly small, single-digit figures. However, one does need to consider the “law of small numbers” when making an accurate assessment here.

For example, the quitting success rate difference between vapers and non-vapers is a whopping 78.2%! And the margin separating consistent and inconsistent vapers is a sizable 53.3% on average. Also note that what separates inconsistent vapers and non-vapers is a 16.3% spread.

The evidence is abundantly clear – not only does vaping help you to quit smoking, it’s better to try vaporizers and not use them thereafter, than it is to attempt to go cold-turkey solo.

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Frank Scherr

- May 21, 2018

Superb post! Definitely sharing this on as many social media channels as I can; just wish this could be more widely distributed.

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