Is Vaping Safer Than Cigarettes?


UH OH FOLKS! CAT’S OUTTA’ THE BAG! Cigarettes are absolutely terrible for you. Still, more than 42 million people in the U. S. alone can’t kick the nicotine habit. Some of you smokers think you’re taking the easier route than quitting and switched to e-cigarettes. But are they any safer? (Reactions Splash) First let’s do a little breakdown on the chemical anatomy of cigarettes. When you light one of these suckers up, you’re looking for that buzz you get from nicotine, but it isn’t just nicotine that’s going into your body. Estimates show there are more than 7,300 chemical compounds in each puff you take. 70 of them are known carcinogens, and there could be way more.. Nicotine is a naturally occurring alkaloid compound, just like caffeine and for the records, it’s not a carcinogen. When it enters into your blood stream, it works its way into your brain and mimics certain neurotransmitters, ultimately triggering the production of feel-good dopamine. When you quit smoking, the brain still craves it, triggering a bunch of really crappy withdrawal symptoms. To quell the blistering pain of withdrawal, some smokers use e-cigarettes to get their nicotine fix, and supposedly without all the extra chemicals. E-cig manufacturers claim that they’re a safe substitute for smoking real tobacco, but there still isn’t enough chemical knowledge on both the manufacturing process and ingredients, and what’s actually produced in the smoke to know for sure. The standard recipe for an electronic cigarette is a formula of either propylene glycol or glycerin solutions of nicotine mixed with a flavor additive. When using e-cigarettes, an atomizer heats up the mixture, creating a small cloud of particulate that is inhaled. While some refer to it as a vapor or “vaping”, what you’re actually smoking is an aerosol, basically particles suspended in air or gas. But “aerosoling” doesn’t sound as cool. I think it’s also a reasonable idea to consider if it’s all that cool to look like you’re playing a space instrument with that Cantina band in Star Wars. Studying the aerosols of e-cigarettes is a challenge to scientists. There’s a vast array of manufacturers out there, many using different processes to make their products, and there is limited study data on the subject because of how new these things are. However, one thing is certain: e-cig aerosols do contain some known carcinogenic compounds, but fewer than regular cigarettes and mostly in smaller amounts. Some research has shown that when e- cigarettes heat up the nicotine liquid, they can produce both formaldehyde and acetaldehyde aerosols; both are carcinogens. And while most of the flavor additives have been dubbed generally safe for consumption, that doesn’t cover what happens when you inhale them, as some of these compounds can go through changes when heated up into aerosol form. So are e-cigs safer than cigarettes? To sum it up, science hasn’t had time to properly answer that question quite yet, but it’s getting close. There is evidence suggesting that they have pretty negative health effects. At the same time, they could be safer than smoking real cigarettes. But let me just emphasize could, because there is still tons of research going into it, and as of yet, there are no definitive conclusions that have been made. So use your heads folks. Even if e-cigs are found to be safer than real cigarettes, smoking of any kind isn’t good for you. Smoking is smoking no matter how you want to look at it, so stay healthy and cut the habit. Special thanks to Compound Interest for helping out with this video, make sure to check out their blog. If you want to learn more about e-cigarettes, check down in the video description for a link to the C&EN article by Britt Erickson all about regulations in the e-cigarrets market. Thanks for watching, don’t forget to hit that subscribe button and we’ll see you again soon.