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Why are modern vapes less harmful than traditional cigarettes?

Vapour devices (vapes or e-cigarettes) and traditional cigarettes differ significantly in composition, which fundamentally determines their health risks.

While traditional cigarettes contain toxic substances from the combustion process, vapes eliminate this combustion, reducing the formation of harmful by-products.

Composition and combustion

A conventional cigarette’s “soul” is tobacco, with nicotine in the leaves responsible for its addictive effect. During combustion, large amounts of tar and carbon monoxide are produced, severely damaging the respiratory system and lungs. Tobacco smoke contains over 70 known carcinogens.

Additionally, manufacturers add various additives to tobacco, such as flavour enhancers, combustion accelerators, and humectants, to influence the burning process and taste. These substances further increase the amount of harmful compounds in the smoke. The cigarette paper also contributes to the combustion by-products, as its chlorine content can form dioxins, and it is often contaminated with heavy metals. The burning process generates highly toxic compounds like carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

Operation of vapour devices

In contrast, vapour devices operate on a completely different principle, producing “smoke” (actually vapour) by vaporising a liquid known as e-liquid. This liquid typically contains vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, nicotine, and flavourings.

A vape device consists of a battery that powers a heating coil equipped with a heating spiral. The e-liquid is stored in a tank or cartridge and reaches the heating coil through a cotton wick. When the battery is activated, the heating coil warms the e-liquid, causing it to evaporate and form inhalable vapour. Most modern vape devices allow users to adjust resistance and temperature for the desired vapour production and flavour experience.

Advanced devices, like the Yuoto vape range, feature mesh-coil technology instead of cotton-wicked coils. Despite their name, most mesh coils are metal strips punched with holes, maximising the coil’s surface area while minimising its volume. This results in a larger contact area between the coil and the e-liquid, providing a better experience and preventing the wick from drying out after prolonged use.

Health considerations

Although vaping is based on relatively new technology, its long-term health risks are not well-known. It cannot be unequivocally stated that vaping is healthy, as most e-liquids contain nicotine and vapour can still contain harmful substances.

However, vaping has several advantages over traditional smoking. Vaping does not leave a bad smell, does not affect breath odour, and, with conscious use, can even aid in quitting smoking entirely.

Bahawal  Akram

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