Smoking cigarettes causes well-known harm to the lungs. Long-term inhalation of burning tobacco can lead to lung and esophageal cancer, and to a variety of deadly lung conditions like emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). But what about vaping?
Cigarette smoke attacks the lungs in several ways. It contains thousands of chemicals, more than 70 of which are known carcinogens. It also contains particulate matter — fine bits of burned tobacco and paper — that is deposited deep in the lungs, where they can be buried in the tissue. Vaping doesn’t produce known carcinogens in quantities large enough to be considered real risks, and it doesn’t contain solid particles like smoke.
In fact, the things that are most dangerous in burning tobacco are largely absent from vaping. Since there is no combustion in vaping, there is no tar or carbon monoxide — two other major dangers of smoking. Vaping uses heat from a coil to turn e-liquid into an inhalable aerosol. It looks like smoke, but isn’t. That said, vaping is not without some potential risks to lung health.
There is some concern over the ingredients in e-liquid: propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, and flavorings. There is no serious human research on the effects of inhaling PG or VG daily for an extended period of time, although extensive animal studies of PG inhalation haven’t raised any red flags. PG has been found to cause minor irritation of the airways, but this isn’t concerning in itself.
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