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Smoking VS Vaping, The facts



Smoking has long been recognised as a leading cause of preventable diseases and premature deaths worldwide. So there is no wonder we are currently seeing a huge push towards a “smoke-free generation” from the UK government. The harmful effects of smoking are well-documented, with a myriad of toxic chemicals present in tobacco smoke contributing to a wide range of health issues. In recent years, vaping has emerged as a less harmful alternative, attracting smokers looking to reduce their health risks. This article delves into the harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke, their impact on the body, and how vaping compares as a less harmful option.

The Toxic Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke

Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, many of which are harmful to human health. Among these, more than 70 are known carcinogens. Here are some of the most harmful substances found in cigarette smoke:

  • Tar: Tar is a sticky substance that accumulates in the lungs, leading to reduced lung function and chronic respiratory conditions. It also contains many carcinogens.
  • Carbon Monoxide: This colourless, odourless gas interferes with the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood, leading to cardiovascular problems and reduced oxygen delivery to tissues.
  • Formaldehyde: A known carcinogen, formaldehyde is used in embalming fluid and is present in cigarette smoke. It can cause respiratory problems and increase cancer risk.
  • Benzene: Found in pesticides and gasoline, benzene is a known carcinogen linked to leukaemia and other blood disorders.
  • Hydrogen Cyanide: Used in chemical weapons, hydrogen cyanide affects the cardiovascular and respiratory systems, leading to significant health problems.
  • Arsenic: A potent poison, arsenic in cigarette smoke can cause various cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

The Impact of Smoking on the Body

The chemicals in cigarette smoke have profound and widespread effects on the body. Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer, with around 85% of cases attributable to tobacco use. It also significantly increases the risk of other cancers, including those of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, pancreas, and bladder.

Cardiovascular diseases are another major consequence of smoking. The toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke damage the lining of the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), which can result in heart attacks and strokes.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a group of lung conditions, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, primarily caused by smoking. These diseases lead to long-term breathing problems and significantly reduce the quality of life.

Furthermore, smoking has detrimental effects on almost every organ in the body. It can cause complications in pregnancy, reduce fertility, weaken the immune system, and accelerate the ageing process of the skin.

Vaping: A Less Harmful Alternative

Vaping has gained popularity as an alternative to smoking, primarily due to its reduced harm profile. While not completely risk-free, vaping does not involve combustion, which is the primary source of the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke.

E-liquids used in vaping typically contain nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, and flavourings. The absence of combustion means that many of the harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke are not present in vapour. For instance, tar and carbon monoxide are not produced by vaping, significantly reducing the risk of lung damage and cardiovascular problems.

Studies have shown that vaping exposes users to fewer toxicants compared to smoking. Public Health England has stated that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking, though it is important to note that the long-term health effects of vaping are still being studied.


The harmful effects of smoking are undeniable, with a vast array of toxic chemicals contributing to serious health issues, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory conditions. Vaping, while not without risks, presents a less harmful alternative due to the absence of combustion and the significantly lower levels of toxicants.

For smokers looking to reduce their health risks, transitioning to vaping may be a step towards mitigating the harmful impact of tobacco smoke on their bodies.

By understanding the stark differences in the chemical composition and health impacts of smoking and vaping, individuals can make more informed decisions about their choices, ultimately leading to better health outcomes.

Written by Jakub.O