Vape or Cigarette: Which Is Better? | Pros & Cons
You've probably heard that e-cigarettes and vapes are a safer and less expensive alternative to tobacco cigarettes. But is that actually the truth? Let’s look beyond the marketing curtain to help you determine whether a vape or a cigarette is right for you.
Cigarette smoking is the most popular tobacco consumption method for delivering nicotine (an alkaloid additive with tranquilizing and stimulating effects) into your bloodstream as you inhale the smoke.
- Available almost everywhere
- A vast number of established brands
- Avid smokers maintain that cigarettes provide consistent stress-relief
- Long-term and short-term negative health side effects
- Expensive compared to roll-your-own (custom) cigarettes and vape pens
- Cigarette smoke generates an unpleasant odor
- Less variety (standard sizes, tobacco flavors, and a unified form factor)
Vape pens work differently from cigarettes. The battery-powered device heats and vaporizes the nicotine salt liquid (located in the cartridge). Vaping feels quite similar to smoking a cigarette. At the same time, you can choose the device's size and flavor. Plus, it's easier to control the nicotine consumption rate thanks to a wide variety of vape devices and disposables.
- Compact (a single vape cartridge or a disposable vape can store more nicotine than in a few packs of cigarettes)
- Model variety (different sizes, design, and activation types)
- Vast selection of flavor combinations
- Odorless options
- Cheap alternative to smoking
- Has short-term negative effects
- Won’t help you quit smoking without proper nicotine level management
- Can be more difficult to find your favorite brand or appropriate cartridge (when traveling)
Are Vapes Better Than Cigarettes?
Vaping definitely looks more hi-tech compared to old-school smoking. But are e-vapes better than cigarettes, or is it the other way around? Let's have a closer look and find out!
Tobacco smoking causes lung and breast cancer, emphysema, and other long-term ramifications (for example, impaired immune system, blockage in arteries, and heart disease). Over 480,000 deaths in the United States are attributed to smoking based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.
Are vape pens safer than cigarettes? According to Michael Blaha, Director of Clinical Research at the Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center, vaping exposes you to fewer chemicals than traditional cigarettes. On top of that, the recent removal of vitamin E acetate has decreased the number of people experiencing health problems from vaping.
So which, then, is the safer bet? Cigarettes or a vape pen? Right now, scientists can't say for sure because there are insufficient long-term studies on the matter. However, we will share some important facts to help you understand the difference between each so you can make an informed decision.
Both smoking and vaping deliver nicotine, albeit in a different manner. But how much nicotine is in 1 cigarette vs vape? An average mass-produced cigarette takes about 10 puffs to finish and contains about 2 milligrams of nicotine. Consequently, an average cigarette has approximately 10-20mg of nicotine. However, much of it burns out without getting inside your system.
Now, how many vape puffs equal a cigarette? Vape pens come in different variations. Moreover, there are vape pods and e-juices that don't contain any nicotine at all. That's why there's no totally accurate nicotine comparison between cigarettes and vape devices.
Vapes usually come in 4 nicotine level standards, represented in the amount of nicotine salt in each 1mL (milliliter) of the e-liquid:
- 3mg (about 0.3% nicotine in 1mL)
- 6mg (0.6% nicotine)
- 12mg (1.2% nicotine)
It's easier to measure nicotine consumption in mL. For example, you'll get 3mg of nicotine for each mL of 0.3% nic salt e-liquid you consume.
While the vape vs. cigarette health risks debate is ongoing, there's no denying that vapes beat cigarettes in terms of comfort.
You can carry a few packs worth of cigarettes in a single e-juicy cartridge. Vape pens can store even more juice while still being compact enough to fit in your pocket.
Then there's customizability. If you think that the vape pen is worse than cigarettes, there's a great chance that you didn't try the right device yet. Vapes come in many forms and flavors. Besides, heating technology and activation systems can vary from brand to brand.
Vape devices require regular cleaning and maintenance to keep operational. So, are vapes worse than cigarettes in that regard? Not really. You can buy an affordable disposable non-rechargeable device to get a completely hassle-free experience.
According to the Cochrane report, the throat sensations you experience during vaping are very reminiscent of smoking. Both vapes and cigarettes deliver nicotine substances to your system. However, vape devices offer more unique flavor combinations.
Let's not forget about aesthetics. Smoking feels old-school, whereas vaping looks more hi-tech. Just remember that there's no substantial difference between a vape or cigarette in terms of nicotine delivery. Both deliver nicotine (except for nicotine-free vapes), just in different ways, and in different quantities.
If you go through a pack of cigarettes a day, it will add up to $4,000 per year. On the other hand, a vape device can cost you less than $400 yearly.
Therefore, vaping is an undeniable winner when it comes to financial expense. The lower cost of e-cigarettes and maintenance is the most common reason why people switch to vaping.
|Harm||Long-term and short-term consequences (cancer, heart disease, risk of developing health conditions)||Short-term consequences (confirmed)
Less exposure to toxicants
No sufficient studies about long-term side effects
|Nicotine||Delivers nicotine when inhaling the smoke from the burning tobacco||Heats the nicotine salt e-liquid
More levels of nicotine strength
Availability of nicotine-free vapes
|Convenience||Fixed, standardized sizes
Numerous cigarette brands
|Great variety of sizes, form factors, and heating technologies
Compact and convenient
Chargeable and non-rechargeable (disposable) devices
|Feel||Affect the mood by delivering stimulants into the nervous system||Same as smoking
You can enhance the experience with different flavors
|Cost||$2,300-$4,000 per year (on average)||$300-$900 per year (on average)|
So, should you make a switch to e-cigarettes, or is a traditional cigarette still the best bet? Both options have their own unique set of considerations, to be sure. Nonetheless, vape devices offer more variety, a wide selection of flavors, and they can also help you save more money.
As always, we welcome your comments and feedback!
- Anant Derhgawen