The issue with vaping is that it is a relatively new way to use nicotine. It took decades of research and observation to identify the adverse health effects to chronic users of other tobacco products, and it will likely take a similar amount of time to confidently identify any problems that arise with e-cigarette use. That said, e-cigarettes do not contain the same harmful ingredients as cigarettes, which probably makes them safer, although I can't say how much.
There have been some studies that show using e-cigarettes increases your risk of developing respiratory symptoms such as coughing or increased phlegm production. It is possible that it could increase your risk for heart disease, although that risk seems to be hypothetical at the moment.
As far as cancer goes, while many of the carcinogens found in cigarettes are much lower in e-cigarettes, propylene glycol and glycerol (the main components in the liquid cartridge) both break down into several potential carcinogens. I can't say whether this makes lung cancer/disease more or less likely, however.
And of course, nicotine abuse is bad for your cardiovascular system. That has not changed.
TLDR; it's up in the air. The general consensus seems to be it is likely safer than cigarettes, however it's possible that there could be some bad stuff in the vapor. If there are negative health consequences, we won't really find out until people start getting sick, unfortunately.
If we don't read into your question at all, the answer is of course, vaping is unhealthy. Inhaling any foreign substance is generally going to be unhealthy.
If you're vaping or thinking about vaping just to vape, and not as a smoking cessation method, please don't, it's pretty dumb. If you insist, at least use zero nicotine juice.
All that said, if you're using vaping to quit smoking cigarettes, that's a different conversation. I smoked for 25 years and quit the day I got a vape setup. I vaped for 2 years, slowly lowering my nicotine intake, and then I quit the vape, about a year ago. It was pretty effortless, although I'll stress that using a vape to quit smoking requires
1) a good investment in a quality kit
2) another investment in a quality BACKUP kit and accessories so when your batteries are dead or you're out of coils or juice, you're not forced to go buy cigarettes.
3) the right amount of nicotine in your juice. If you're still feeling the need to smoke a cigarette, increase your nicotine. I started with 18mg/ml, you may need 24mg/ml, or 9mg/ml might sate your craving. It depends on the person.
I felt respiratory improvement after 2 weeks of not smoking. I certainly felt it in my wallet (vaping is ridiculously cheap compared to smoking), and I even felt it in my personal life, my wife really liked that I didn't smell like smoke.
Vaping is unhealthy compared to breathing in fresh air. It's healthy compared to breathing in cigarette smoke. It's healthy compared to inhaling aeresolized fat molecules from a deep fryer. It's all relative OP.
The ELI5 answer is that vaping has not shown any long term health problems for users yet, but that this is still being studied closely. Vaping can help cigarette users quit smoking and it has none of the negative health effects that inhaling cigarette smoke does. People that switch to vaping to quit cigarettes can look forward to similar health levels as non smokers.
While all of the ingredients in e-juice are approved for human consumption, there may be different health effects inhaling an aerosol of flavorings versus swallowing them. For example soda pop is okay to drink, but if you inhaled it, you would not find it agreeable and it could damage the lining of your lungs. While eating flavorings is healthy, the jury is out on effects of different flavorings on the lungs.
A cigarette is consumed by burning it and inhaling the combusted gases, tars, ash, and chemicals released from combustion. Combustion isn't perfect and so a wide range of chemical compounds, many of which cause health problems are released. Vaping is not burning something, it is converting a liquid into an aerosol and inhaling it. This does not significantly change the chemical makeup of the aerosol versus the liquid juice.
The main materials are vegetable glycerin and polypropylene glycol. Both of these are FDA approved and safe for consumption and have no known health problems inhaling.
The nicotine content varies from 0mg (none) to 24mg (around a cigarette strength). Nicotine is a drug, and in high concentrations it's a poison. This is mainly a concern for people handling 60-100mg/ml laboratory grade nicotine for mixing their own juice, but you wouldn't want a child to get a hold of a bottle of e-juice, or spill it on your shirt and ignore it.
The main point of contention are the flavorings used to make the juice taste good to the user. The majority of these flavorings are USDA approved for human consumption, but the long term study of inhaling them is on-going. Most of the dangers you hear about from vaping products are a class of flavorings known to cause popcorn lung in high concentrations and prolonged exposures. To date there have been no instances of this occurring in any vaper, and the evidence of this occurring outside of factory conditions where workers spent hours a day breathing concentrated diacetyl in are anecdotal. Still though, better safe than sorry, and most vaporizer juice companies avoid these flavorings and volunteer laboratory results of their juice tests.
It's not harmless.
It's significantly *less* harmful than smoking, but most e-liquids contain nicotine, which has harmful effects of its own, and many contain at least some carcinogens (that's "things that cause cancer", this being ELI5). That's just to *start* with; there are other reasons it's not good for your health.
The long-term effects are unknown, so no major effects have been established, but that's not the same thing as an *absence* of major effects having been established.
Source: Former smoker who now vapes, have read some news coverage and some actual scientific coverage.
Nicotine by itself is not actually all that harmful, its similar to caffeine. No reasonable person will argue that it is not addictive, it clearly is. However, it is well understood that people get addicted to cigarettes because it is a highly efficient nicotine delivery system, but they are killed by the other components in the cigarette.
Many of the chemicals in smoke which are known to be harmful come specifically from the combustion. If you were to dry out some lettuce and smoke it, you would inhale many of the same carcinogens. Used properly, vaping does not burn anything - i.e. there is no combustion.
However, it is possible to 'dry hit' a vape - such as when you forget to refill the tank. This causes the cotton to burn and therefore creates the same types of carcinogens to be produced as in cigarettes. Some studies of vape technology have reported very high levels of formaldehyde, specifically, but examining the materials and methods of these studies shows that they were almost certainly burning the cotton. Therefore, high levels of formaldehyde actually are a good litmus test for the validity of a study. If the levels are too high, they are likely studying older technology and using it improperly. This is not to say the scientists involved are incompetent or doing this deliberately, the technology has improved very significantly in the last few years.
Public Health England [has concluded through scientific study](https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-cigarettes-around-95-less-harmful-than-tobacco-estimates-landmark-review
) that vaping is about 95% less harmful than smoking. This does not mean that vaping is harmless, simply less harmful.
What is **not** yet known is the long-term effects of vaping. The first e-cig was invented in 2003. There were only a handful of products on the market before the last few years. We have about a century of data on smoking and its long term effects.
Is it possible that in fifty years we will learn that vaping was in fact more harmful in the long term? We cannot rule that out, but we have no reason to believe it will happen. However it is known that continuing to smoke will be harmful, so for people like me who have had no success quitting without vaping it is worth a try. We have a choice between something that will definitely kill us, or something that might but more likely won't.
**TL,DR:** If you've never smoked, its probably not a good idea to start vaping. If you can quit smoking without vaping, quit smoking. However, many people have been unable to quit smoking without vaping, and reducing harm is better than continuing to smoke.
I used to work for an e-cig company working for a friend. He made millions when it first became a big hit (here in Canada) 6-8 years ago. My job was to make the juices, i.e. liquids that go into the devices. I was labels as an "E-Liquid Engineer". It kind of made me laugh, and it was then I realised sometimes the words "professional" and "highly trained" gets thrown around more often then it should.
Essentially, what I was tasked with doing was mixing the core ingredients of the chemicals. There are two main ingredients, PG (Propylene Glycol) and VG (Vegetable Glycerine). Depending on the type of vape you want, be it more cloud, or smoother vape, etc. you would change how much of each of those main parts go into the mixture.
People normally want a flavour to go along with the vape. I would add from a variety of flavours to the concoction. These flavours would range from something sweet, to fruity, to ones that taste like normal cigarettes. Most of the flavourings were harmless in their own, with most being simple flavour shots you could get at grocery stores or bulk barns. Others were concentrates mixed with a few other harmless ingredients.
The last ingredient was the nicotine. It wasn't mandatory to have nicotine added to the bottle. There are many different "strengths" you can purchase, ranging from zero nicotine, to an extremely large amount (sometimes more then a regular cigarette). As others have mentioned, the nicotine is certainly a harmful chemical, and the vapes with in included should not be deemed "healthy". However, without that included, most vapes are relatively harmless. Of course what's even healthier then ingesting the PG and VG would be not vaping at all.
I worked there for a couple of years, and I never vaped. I never smoked, so I felt no need to. It was a little odd being the only non-vaper, because vaping becomes a lifestyle of sorts. It's something a lot of people who begin vaping reaaaally get into.
Bottom line though, the nicotine in the is essentially the worst part of vaping. Without that, it's truly not that bad. I mean, eating a Big Mac could probably prove to be worse for you then vaping without nicotine.
[Serious]: So how does that work for cannabis which is vaporized fresh using convection heat?
I feel 100x better vaping than smoking cigs. Im not dead yet, and we are all but a blip in the universe..Have some fun while youre here. Take a chance-Colombus did!
I'm not going to say it's healthy. Vaping is definitely healiER than smoking a traditional cigarette. Compared to the thousand of chemicals in cigarettes, vape juice has only 4 or 5 (vegetable glycerin; propylene glycol; artificial flavoring; nicotine, if you choose; and some add artificial sweeteners). Not to mention that the wires that are used (kanthol) is the same wire that are used in your toaster. While the PG is one of the ingredients that are found in medical IV's, asthma inhalers, shampoo (a lot of day to day uses). You don't have all the carcinogens because you aren't actually burning anything. Believe it or not, vaping has been around since the 60s, but because of technology only being available to those who had the money to afford it. It's more readily available today because technology is in general. Just keep in mind that anything you put into your body is potentially harmful to you. The biggest point that I always made to people was that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking.