Old debate, new review: Vaping vs tobacco

Old debate, new review: Vaping vs tobacco

On World Vape Day (yes, there is such a day!), British American Tobacco revealed the latest scientific evidence on the health effects of vaping. This includes the role that vaping plays in reducing tobacco harm.

Their review summarised more than 300 scientific papers and other forms of evidence published by some 50 institutions over the past decade.

The health status standoff

First, the focus fell on that most popular of debates: how does vaping compare to the smoking of conventional cigarettes?

The answer is that there are proven benefits to having smokers of conventional cigarettes convert to e-smoking, whether their product of choice is an electronic cigarette or a vaping device. At the top of the list is the reduced impact of e-smoking on smokers’ health.

Judging from the results of surveys carried out in the UK, Europe and the U.S., though, more and more people seem to be getting the facts wrong. Misinformation has fed the popular belief that vaping is as harmful, or more so, than smoking tobacco cigarettes – this, while scientific reviews have repeatedly shown that vaping poses less risk to consumers’ health.

Population modelling studies have in fact projected a much lower number of premature deaths among smokers who stop smoking conventional cigarettes in favour of vaping.

To put it in a nutshell: As long as you use good-quality vaping products, you stand to live longer than if you should smoke tobacco.

The cost of tobacco smoking compared to vaping

There are two sides to the money debate: first, the cost of maintaining one’s habit, and second, the cost of smoking to society.

The calculation of rands and cents spent on conventional cigarettes vs e-products is easily made. Once you’ve invested in good-quality e-products, you’ll be forking out considerably less on a monthly basis than you would buying tobacco products.

The cost of keeping smokers alive and healthy is not quite as easily calculable, but it is safe to say that since e-smoking poses a lesser risk to consumers’ health, it will ultimately reduce the healthcare burden.

Simply put: It’s less expensive to feed your vaping habit, and you’ll cost society less in healthcare bills.

The pleasure factor

At the bottom of any debate about vaping vs tobacco smoking lies the simple fact that people smoke because they enjoy it. How enjoyable, then, is it to vape as compared with smoking tobacco? 

The driving factor for most is the kick they get from inhaling nicotine, and on that score vaping compares favourably. After all, you get to decide exactly how much nicotine you wish to consume. Just pick the product with the relevant number of milligrams.

As for sensorial enjoyment, e-devices have come a long way, and an increasing number of consumers report either equal or more pleasure from vaping as opposed to tobacco smoking. Add to that the absence of an offensive stale tobacco odour clinging to clothes and indoor spaces – around both the smoker and others – and there’s no contest, really.


There’s also the little matter of regulation and the role it plays in what is offered to consumers. A review of vapour product regulations notes that regulations tend to cover aspects such as labelling, ingredients and taxation, but that they fall short when it comes to manufacturing standards.

That means the public are left to look out for themselves when it comes to choosing products – quality standards vary drastically, and it goes without saying that saving a buck may cost you dearly in the long run.

Not only may poor-quality devices and consumables be detrimental to your health; they may also be dangerous to use. Furthermore, substandard components are prone to conking in, which is fuel to the fire of those who distrust the industry. 

Stick to well-known brands and follow the instructions, though, and you should be fine.


Live longer, pay less and have yourself and your stuff smell nicer. Contest over. Vaping wins!