Is Vaping Classed as Smoking?

/ 9 min read

Is Vaping Classed as Smoking?

The ongoing debate around vaping and smoking has raised many questions, particularly whether vaping can be considered ‘the same’ as smoking. Here, we examine the key differences between the two, delving into the health risks, UK regulations, and public perception of both practices. As a pharmaceutical-backed e-liquid manufacturer, EDGE Vaping is dedicated to promoting responsible and informed choices regarding vaping and smoking.

The Definition and Differences Between Vaping and Smoking

When considering whether vaping counts as being a smoker, it is essential to understand the fundamental differences between smoking and vaping. While both practices involve the inhalation of nicotine, the method of delivery, substances inhaled, and associated health risks significantly differ between the two.

Vaping involves the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes, or e-cigs), which are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid, called e-liquid, into a vapour that the user inhales. E-liquids typically contain nicotine, flavourings, propylene glycol, and vegetable glycerol. Vaping products come in various shapes and sizes, from small cig-a-like devices to larger vape pens, and box mods which are larger still.

Smoking refers to the act of burning tobacco and inhaling the smoke produced. Traditional cigarettes contain tobacco leaves mixed with various additives, which release harmful toxins, such as tar, carbon monoxide, and numerous carcinogens, when burned. Other forms of smoking include cigars, pipes, and hookahs, all of which involve combustion and the inhalation of smoke.

The key differences between vaping and smoking lie in the process and the substances inhaled. While smoking involves combustion and produces harmful chemicals vaping heats e-liquid without burning, reducing the number of harmful chemicals inhaled. Additionally, using e-cigarettes does not produce the offensive odour and second-hand smoke associated with traditional cigarettes, making them more socially acceptable in many situations.

How Many Puffs of Vape is Equal to a Cigarette?

Determining the exact number of puffs from an e-cigarette that is equivalent to a traditional cigarette can be challenging due to several factors. These factors include the type of e-cigarette used, the strength of the e-liquid, the user's vaping behaviour, and individual smoking habits.

However, a general rule of thumb often mentioned is that a single traditional cigarette is roughly equal to about 10 puffs from a vape pen or e-cigarette. This estimation is based on the assumption that a single puff from a vape delivers roughly the same amount of nicotine as one puff from a cigarette, and that the average smoker takes about 10 puffs per cigarette.

It is important to note that this is a rough approximation and can vary significantly depending on the aforementioned factors. The nicotine strength of the e-liquid plays a crucial role in determining the number of puffs needed to achieve a similar effect to a traditional cigarette. E-liquids come in various nicotine strengths, typically ranging from 0mg (nicotine-free) to 20mg (the legal maximum in the UK).

Another consideration is the type of e-cigarette being used. Different devices, such as cartomisers, vape pens, and box mods, have varying levels of power and performance, which can impact the amount of nicotine delivered per puff.

Moreover, individual vaping and smoking habits also influence the number of puffs required to achieve a similar effect to a cigarette. For instance, a person who takes longer, deeper puffs from a vape may need fewer puffs to match the nicotine intake of a traditional cigarette.

To read more about how many puffs of vape are equal to smoking a cigarette, take a look at this blog post.

Couple consulting doctor on health differences between vaping and smoking

What are the Health Risks of Smoking?

Traditional cigarettes contain more than 7,000 chemicals, including harmful substances like tar, carbon monoxide, and numerous carcinogens. Tar is a sticky residue that accumulates in the lungs, causing respiratory issues and contributing to the development of lung cancer. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that interferes with the blood's ability to transport oxygen, leading to cardiovascular problems.

According to the NHS, smoking is associated with a range of severe health risks, such as:

  • Lung cancer: Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, responsible for approximately 85% of all cases. The numerous carcinogens in cigarette smoke damage lung cells, leading to uncontrolled cell growth and the formation of tumours.
  • Heart disease: Smoking damages blood vessels and increases the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition where plaque builds up in the arteries, narrowing them and restricting blood flow. This can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular complications.
  • Stroke: Smoking increases the risk of stroke by damaging blood vessels and raising blood pressure. A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted, leading to brain damage and potential disability or death.
  • Respiratory diseases: Smoking irritates the respiratory system, causing chronic bronchitis and emphysema, two major components of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is a progressive and debilitating disease that impairs lung function and breathing.

What are the Health Risks of Vaping?

E-liquids contain nicotine, flavourings, and other chemicals, which are heated and inhaled as vapour. While vaping exposes users to far fewer harmful chemicals than smoking, there are still potential health risks associated with e-cigarette use.

Vaping may present some health risks, including:

  • Reduced lung function: Some studies have shown that e-cigarette use can lead to decreased lung function, particularly among those with pre-existing lung conditions. However, the extent of this effect is still being researched, and it is generally considered to be less harmful than smoking.
  • Heart disease: While the risk of heart disease from vaping is significantly lower than that of smoking, some studies have suggested that e-cigarettes may still have negative effects on heart health. Nicotine in e-liquids can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which may contribute to cardiovascular issues. However, the overall risk is believed to be much lower than that associated with smoking.
  • Addiction to nicotine: E-cigarettes deliver nicotine, which is an addictive substance. While vaping can help smokers quit traditional cigarettes, it can also lead to a dependence on nicotine. It is essential for users to be aware of the potential for addiction and to use e-cigarettes and e-liquids responsibly, particularly when considering using them as a smoking cessation tool.

Comparing the Health Risks: Smoking vs. Vaping

Public Health England suggests that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking, with e-cigarettes estimated to be around 95% less harmful. This is due to the significantly lower levels of toxicants in e-cigarette vapour compared to cigarette smoke. While vaping is not completely risk-free, it is a far safer alternative for smokers who wish to reduce their exposure to harmful chemicals.

Vaping can play a role in harm reduction and smoking cessation, as it offers a less harmful alternative for those who wish to become non-smokers. Numerous studies have shown that e-cigarettes can be an effective tool for switching from smoking, with many users reporting success in reducing or eliminating their use of traditional cigarettes. The UK National Health Service recognises the potential benefits of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation and recommends them as a viable option for those seeking to make the switch.

Vaping Regulations

UK Regulations and Policies Around Smoking and Vaping

The UK has implemented various legal distinctions between smoking and vaping:

  • Indoor smoking bans: Smoking is prohibited in enclosed public spaces, workplaces, and public transport in the UK. However, these bans do not apply to e-cigarettes, allowing users to vape in many places where smoking is not permitted. Some businesses and institutions have implemented their own policies regarding e-cigarette use on their premises, so it is essential to be aware of any specific rules that may apply.
  • Tobacco advertising restrictions: Tobacco advertising is heavily restricted in the UK, with a ban on television and radio advertisements, print media, and sponsorships. E-cigarette advertising is subject to different regulations, with some restrictions on promotional activities and stricter rules for advertising online, but generally more lenient than those applied to tobacco products and especially in vape stores and on billboards etc...
  • E-cigarette regulations: E-cigarettes are subject to specific regulations in the UK, including age restrictions, which prohibit sales to anyone under 18 years old, and labelling requirements that mandate clear and accurate information on packaging. Additionally, e-liquids containing nicotine must adhere to maximum strength limits, and all e-cigarette products must be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before sale.

What Does the Public Think About Vaping and Smoking?

While smoking has long been stigmatised due to its severe health risks, vaping is sometimes unfairly associated with similar negative perceptions. This is partly due to a lack of understanding of the differences between the two and the belief that vaping is as harmful as smoking.

It is crucial to address misconceptions about vaping and its relation to smoking, as well as to educate the public on the significant differences between the two. Public health campaigns, educational initiatives, and accurate information dissemination can help challenge these misperceptions and contribute to a more informed public opinion.

Does Vaping Count as Being a Smoker?

From a health perspective, vaping does not count as being a smoker due to the significant differences in the substances inhaled and the associated risks. Vaping is considered a less harmful alternative to smoking, particularly for those looking to quit traditional cigarettes. However, it is worth noting that vaping is not entirely risk-free and may still pose some health risks, such as reduced lung function, heart disease, and nicotine addiction.

In terms of social perception and regulations, vaping and smoking are also treated differently. For instance, indoor smoking bans in the UK apply to traditional cigarettes but not e-cigarettes. Tobacco advertising is heavily restricted, while e-cigarette advertising is subject to different, more lenient regulations. Moreover, e-cigarettes have specific regulations, such as age restrictions and labelling requirements.

Is Vaping Worse Than Smoking Cigarettes?

Understanding the key differences between smoking and vaping is essential for public health. Vaping is not the same as smoking, as it offers a less harmful alternative for those who wish to make the switch from smoking. While it is important to recognise that vaping is not entirely risk-free, it is significantly safer than smoking, providing a viable option for harm reduction and smoking cessation. As we promote responsible and informed choices, it is crucial to encourage further education and research on this topic.

By dispelling misconceptions and presenting accurate information, we can ensure that the public is aware of the differences between vaping and smoking, as well as the potential benefits of e-cigarettes as nicotine replacement products. In doing so, we can support a healthier population and contribute to the reduction of smoking-related diseases and death.

Ultimately, it is essential for individuals to make informed decisions about their personal health, taking into consideration the potential risks and benefits of both smoking and vaping. By providing clear, accurate, and up-to-date information on the topic, EDGE Vaping aims to empower consumers to make the best choices for their safety, health and well-being.

Looking to Make the Switch?

If you are considering making the switch and experimenting with vape products, then please visit our Making the Switch page where you can learn everything you need to know to make an informed choice, see if vaping is right for you and if so, how to start your journey the right way.