It feels better, in multiple ways. From superior sensory experience to health benefits, vaping tobacco is at least 7 steps ahead of smoking it.
Technically, tobacco vaping (or vaporizing) is a way to consume tobacco via one’s respiratory system, just like smoking. The idea behind tobacco vaping is to extract the same ‘good’ stuff you get from tobacco when smoking by heating, not burning tobacco. After all, if you seek a certain experience of tobacco, be it in the form of a cigarette (factory-made or of the roll-your own type) or served in a pipe, you might as well achieve it without setting tobacco on fire. And this brings us to the reasons why tobacco vaping makes sense. More sense than smoking, actually.
1. More pure sensory experience
When you are vaping tobacco instead of smoking it, one thing is conspicuous by its absence: the smoke. Which leaves all other ingredients in a better position to deliver the sensory experience you are craving in tobacco. But smokers tend to like the smoke, you might argue. The way it smells, tastes and otherwise feels in various less articulable ways. Well, what they actually like is certain compounds which the smoke contains. However, along with all the zesty-tasting savory-smelling bits and nicotine, the most important active ingredient of tobacco, the smoke includes a lot of other components cluttering the sensory experience of tobacco. That is because the smoke is produced by burning tobacco at temperatures as high as 750 F (400 C) where various undesired compounds are released from tobacco. Meanwhile, a vaporizer heats tobacco to 400 F (200 C) at most. At the vaping temperatures no combustion occurs and only the more volatile compounds actually carrying taste and aroma are released. Tobacco vapor is free of combustion byproducts for you to enjoy tobacco in its purest form while also getting a fair share of nicotine.
2. No CO, plus other health benefits
When people talk about tobacco smoking health risks they generally don’t distinguish between tobacco harm and smoking harm. And while there has been virtually no substantial research done on specifically health risks of tobacco vaping, some health benefits of vaping as opposed to smoking are pure common sense.
Firstly, since vaping doesn’t involve combustion, there is no carbon monoxide (CO) created in the process. CO is one of the most dangerous components of tobacco smoke or any other smoke for that matter. Absorbed by lungs it poisons blood limiting its ability to intake the all-important oxygen. CO, the colorless odorless and tasteless gas, is toxic in concentrations at which it is released with tobacco smoke. The dizziness novice smokers often experience after smoking their first cigarettes is the result of mild CO intoxication.
Secondly, also due to absence of combustion, there is no tar in tobacco vapor. Unlike CO, tar has color, odor and smell: it is the dirty brownish stuff which creates harmful deposits on smoker’s teeth, lungs and everything in-between.
Thirdly, since vaping requires much lower temperatures, less variety of potentially harmful compounds are released from tobacco and some dangerous compounds are non-existent at all because, like carbon monoxide, they are only created in the process of combustion.
There might be dozens of other scientifically-reasoned advantages of vaping over smoking but an utterly unscientific personal experience can provide the most compelling reasoning of them all. Try walking up a few flights of stairs after smoking – and you will likely be losing your breath quite early. This (CO intoxication) effect is perceptible even after an hour past smoking. Contrastingly, with vaping there is none of this out-of-breath sensation coming too early when you climb stairs or perform other physical activity. If being healthier means being able to physically perform better, then vaping is certainly healthier than smoking.
3. Greater variety and quality vs cigarettes
If you consider switching from cigarette smoking to tobacco vaping, consider this: loose ‘roll-your-own’ and pipe tobaccos typically served in a vaporizer come in a mind-blowing variety of distinctively different blends, flavors and aromas, while the majority of cigarettes are manufactured using very similar dull low-cost tobacco blends and taste more or less the same. As for quality difference, according to the World Health Organization, the amount of tobacco per 1000 cigarettes fell from 2.28 pounds (1 kg) in 1960 to 0.91 pounds (0.4 kg) in 1999 due to introduction of additives and other industrial cost-saving tricks by cigarette manufacturers. In other words, when you smoke a cigarette, what you actually smoke is not even cheap tobacco but a tobacco-infused mixture of junk and chemicals. All in all, variety-wise and quality-wise the difference between cigarette ‘tobaccos’ and genuine tobaccos can be as astonishing as drinking Fanta since forever and then discovering citrus fruit in all their variety.
4. Vaping in ‘no smoking’ areas
This is a rather tricky proposition. You certainly shouldn’t vape tobacco at a maternity clinic or in your airplane seat or while standing under a ‘No Smoking’ sign with a police officer looking at you. However, in not so in-your-face situations less smell and less visible traces of tobacco vapor can do the trick. Ultimately it’s your personal responsibility to determine whether it is OK or not to vape tobacco at any given environment or situation. A seemingly stupid, yet rather efficient rule of thumb here is a ‘fart test’: if you believe it’s possible to make an unnoticeable fart wherever you are, then it’s likely to be OK to discreetly vape tobacco there.
5. It is better for the environment
Smoking cigarettes creates waste in the form of cigarette butts, which often end up on the ground, not in an ashtray or a trash bin. Even smoking tobacco in a pipe or a roll-your-own cigarette usually implies the use of a disposable synthetic filter. With vaping the only waste you produce is tobacco which is completely organic and totally (and quickly) biodegradable.
Another environmental dimension of smoking vs vaping concerns indoor environments. If you smoke in a room you release carbon monoxide degrading the air quality. And you also release tar and particles of ash which deposit on all surfaces. When you vape tobacco none of these things pollute your indoor environment because they are not created in the process in the first place.
6. Virtually zero fire damage risks
It probably requires a rather unlucky course of events to set a house or a forest on fire with an unextinguished cigarette. But accidentally burnt-through clothes, furniture upholstery or car interior trim constitute fire damage from smoking, and a much more frequent one, albeit less devastating. With vaping all these risks are non-existent because there is no fire involved. There can be other fire risks associated with vaping, like a vaporizer or its charger exploding due to malfunction, but these are rather unlikely if you choose a device from a reputable brand and properly operate and maintain it.
7. Lower expenditures vs cigarettes
The maths may vary from country to country, province to province and state to state, but loose pipe or ‘roll-your-own’ tobacco is generally cheaper per session than factory-made cigarettes. A standard 50 gram (1.76 oz) tin of premium pipe tobacco costs as much as 4 packs of cigarettes on average – and in vaping lasts as long as 6 standard 20-stick packs of cigarettes in smoking. Both estimates are on the conservative side and in reality the price advantage of loose tobacco over cigarettes may be greater.
Of course, you also have to include into your calculations the price of a dry herb vaporizer which may cost as much as 300 US dollars/euros for the most advanced models. However, this is a fixed cost which can be recouped in as little as 6 months thanks to loose tobacco price advantage over cigarettes.