By Lerry Briz

April 8, 2016   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

vaperSmoking is a pastime we humans have been practicing and enjoying ever since the beginning of time. Such an activity has greatly evolved through both time and different generations. It has come from being a part of important rituals (in the Americas, circa 5000 BC), to being loosely used as a medicine (remember the opium craze in Europe?), to being a stress reliever and an instigator for social activities (yep, those smoking breaks you take every now and then when you just need to get away from your demanding work). Indeed, smoking has come a long way, and it it is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. Recently, another addition to the ‘smoking varieties’ has entered the consciousness of our society – vaping, “the new way to ‘smoke’”. But what is this, and how does it differ from old, traditional smoking? This article covers all information on traditional smoking, and it newer, more hip, and apparently healthier brother, vaping.

But – what really is vaping?

Vaping and its advanced technology is fairly new to the smoking industry. Even if Herbert Gilbert in 1963 and Hon Lik in 2003 laid the foundations of the electronic cigarette, the activity only started to boom and be noticed around 2010. But how should we define and distinguish vaping from other forms of smoking?

Vaping is the inhaling and exhaling of (thus, the simulation of smoking) vapors (thus, the name). It has an atomizer that heats up a cartridge which houses the e-liquid, turning it into vapor, which is then being ‘smoked’. This is basically the same process involved in cigarette smoking, but it is just battery powered. Or is it really like that?

Just as vaping is similar to traditional smoking, it is just as different, fundamentally. For one thing, vapes do not use tobacco and do not burn anything. It saves its users from many dilemmas – tar in blood stream, unappealing stained teeth and dangerous carcinogens. It always has been marketed as a healthier alternative to smoking with its mechanism of heating liquid and not burning anything. Vape instruments also offer their users more flavor and customization than tobacco smoking, a feature that is always welcomed by anyone who loves and is a hardcore fan of smoking.

So now – to smoke, or to vape?

One question still remains, however: should you smoke, or should you vape? In the wake of such advancements in smoking, where should you lie? Which should you patronize?

To answer such pressing questions, identifying, analyzing, and thoroughly understanding the pros and cons of both smoking techniques is the only way to go.

Traditional tobacco smoking is patronized by many people because of its stimulating effects. The nicotine that is in the fumes of a lit cigar encourages the production of dopamine in the human brain, a hormone that is connected with feeling happy, well and alert. It also restricts veins, making blood rush through the body and the smoker feel more awake. In addition, the constant puffing needed – inhaling and exhaling in a deep, regular manner – to smoke a cigar or a cigarette is considered to be relaxing, thus making smoking a great anti-stress tactic.

As good as all these benefits may seem, we know that every story has two sides. Science has never failed to state how tobacco smoking is dangerous to anyone’s health, no matter how relaxing it is for some people. The smoke that results from the combustion of tobacco has many by-products that are beyond damaging to one’s body – it creates tar in the blood stream, has a lot of carcinogens, and makes its users’ teeth stained and mouth dark. It does not stop there – the smoke that is taken in by the individuals around the smoker (second hand smoking, as it is widely known) is proven to be more harmful. When you smoke these traditional cigarettes, you not only slowly kill yourself, but others, as well.

In light of these alarming negative effects of tobacco smoking, the idea of e-cigarettes — vaping — sprung to life. Vaping is born out of the idea that smoking can be healthier – which in this case is true. Vaping gives its users vapors and not any combustion. E-cigs, vape pens and the like only use heat and e-liquids to make vapor. They do not burn anything, unlike cigarettes, effectively eliminating bad side effects. These e-liquids are also more versatile than tobacco. They can be flavored to taste and smell like almost anything, giving its users (also known as vapers) more exciting smoking (vaping, actually) sessions. If there is any downside to this product, it is its price – a price you have to pay for reusable units that can last for a long time.

Both, however, have one big drawback. They make their users prone to addiction – nicotine addiction, to be specific. Both offer some level of nicotine, a stimulant that encourages the release of dopamine – the happy hormone – in the brain, as discussed above. When this hormone starts to circulate in an individual’s system, the body could crave for more and more until elimination is virtually impossible. Cigarette smoking is more established in doing this, since nicotine in e-cigs can be controlled, but nonetheless, both still pose a certain level of the said danger.

Stacking them up against each other, which is better in the long term? Smoking and vaping are two similar things, but are very different at the same time. There is really no telling which is better – everything boils down to you and your preference.

Cigarette smoking – the O.G., the analog – is an experience that is unique to itself. Its taste, its hit, its overall experience is something many people have build their lives on, and can never be replaced amidst its many negative and seriously deadly effects. E-cigarettes on the other hand are a true-to-its-name alternative that can satisfy one’s smoking needs without being as bad as tobacco smoking. It presents many advancements, such as flavor, odorless operation, longer product life, and many more, that are definitely very appealing to first time smokers and recuperating smoking addicts. However, it will never be original; it will never be the prime smoke experience; it will always be a copycat. It is also very pricey and is definitely not for a casual smokers, since it is an intricate device. In the long run, however, if you are a hardcore smoker, it becomes a good investment that can save its user money.

Original taste with deadly side-effects, or a copycat that is somewhat healthy? The choice is ultimately yours to make.

Lerry Briz

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