To Vape or Not to Vape
Vaping is growing, but it’s not a panacea for smokers trying to quit. For some people, it might work. For others, it might not. Vaping can give you the same nicotine hit as tobacco cigarettes, but the smoke produced is much less harmful to your lungs and has fewer chemicals that cause cancer and other health problems than cigarette smoke.
When most people think of vaping, they imagine the standard vape pen: an elongated tube-like device with a chamber for cannabis flower or concentrate and a battery at one end. This is the first generation of vaporizer technology, and it’s still very popular.
But vaporizers have come a long way in the last few years. There are now vapes that heat up dry herb and concentrates in just seconds, vapes with replaceable cartridges for convenient and mess-free refills, and even vaporizers that look like regular pens.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that look like traditional cigarettes or pipes but do not contain tobacco. Instead of smoke, e-cigarettes produce vaporized nicotine that users inhale into their lungs. The vapor does not contain carbon monoxide — the main substance in cigarette smoke that can damage your heart and arteries.
The simplest way to describe an e-cigarette or vaping device is that it’s a device that contains a battery, heating element, atomizer and other components you can use to vaporize nicotine liquid (called e-liquid).
The main advantage of vaping is that it’s relatively easy to do. To use an e-cigarette, simply remove the cartridge (containing the e-liquid) from the device and insert it into your mouth. A few seconds later, you’ll inhale the vapor produced by heating the liquid inside the cartridge.
There have been many health concerns associated with vaping. However, vaping products are much less dangerous than tobacco cigarettes because there is no combustion involved — instead, the vapor comes from applying heat directly to an e-liquid containing nicotine.
The question of harm vs. risk is key to understanding the debate. For all its known health risks, smoking does have benefits for some people — at least temporarily. Nicotine is a stimulant that improves attention, mood and reaction time. For those who smoke to get those benefits, there are other options that provide the same effects without the risk of cancer and heart disease. But if vaping poses its own risks — even if they’re less than those posed by smoking — then they need to be weighed against the potential benefits of a nicotine delivery system without tar or smoke.