Smoking cigarettes vs. vaping: UK health campaign shows how much worse cigarettes are

A U.K. health campaign shows the effects of both after a month of exposure.

As part of a new campaign to encourage smokers to quit, Public Health England (PHE) released a video showing the effects of one month of smoking and vaping on two separate groups of cotton balls. The group exposed to traditional cigarette smoke for a month showed considerably more damage and tar buildup when compared to the vaping group.

“This demonstration highlights the devastating harms caused by every cigarette, and helps people see that vaping is likely to pose only a fraction of the risk,” Newton said.

The rising popularity of vaping among teens has sparked a debate about whether they are as damaging to health as smoking cigarettes. In 2018, more than 3.6 million U.S. middle and high schools students used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days prior to being surveyed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When asked about what's in their e-cigarettes, however, only 13 percent of teens were aware that the liquid contained nicotine, according to a survey from the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Sixty-six percent believed their e-cigarettes only contained flavoring. The survey also found that 30.7 percent of teenagers who used e-cigarettes started smoking within six months.

PHE's experiment acknowledged that e-cigarettes are not harmless to people’s health, but the agency said that smokers who quit with the help of an e-cigarette are less likely to start smoking again.

A study by the CDC found that many adults are using e-cigarettes in an attempt to quit smoking, but that they do not stop smoking cigarettes and instead continue to use both. Due to the relatively new technology of e-cigarettes, scientists are still learning about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes.