How Vaping And Smoking Affect Your Body, According To New Studies

Anti-smoking ads are nothing new. The National Library of Medicine explains that they've been around, in their current health-focused form, since the 1960s. Prior to then, anti-smoking campaigns were focused on the allegedly unhygienic and ungodly nature of cigarettes. It wasn't until 1964 that the United States Surgeon General came out with the Report on Smoking and Health that the medical community fully backed the anti-smoking movement on scientific grounds.

By then, however, cigarettes had firmly become a part of American culture. As the National Library of Medicine highlights, cigarettes were associated with the soldiers in both World Wars as well as gender equality, making them a sort of hallmark for self-assertion and freedom for young women. Over time this contributed to the sense that smoking made someone "cool," which only further added to an allure that anti-smoking ads sought to dispel. And, for a time, it worked. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that a 2014 ad campaign helped almost two million smokers quit after only three years of advertisements.

Vaping is, unfortunately, bucking the trend. A 2019 WebMD article states that while more adult smokers were giving up traditional cigarettes, a much wider margin of teens were picking up e-cigarettes. Roughly 21% of high school students admitted to e-cigarette usage within the past month and experts in 2019 predicted that their use would only increase as they reached the legal smoking age. This conjures up many of the same issues health experts had with traditional tobacco products because, as it turns out, e-cigarettes have just as deleterious effects as their predecessors.

How vaping compares to smoking

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLB) released a statement on October 27 highlighting the dangers faced not only by people who vape, but by people who both vape and smoke. As the NHLB puts it, the medical community has known for years that smoking will damage a person's blood cells. But vaping was so new that there just wasn't enough data to ring the same warning bells. And, to that end, the National Institute of Health funded two studies to determine if the same risks were present.

One study focused on rats, while the other focused on humans, and the results were clear. The human study found that those who vaped were at a higher risk for cardiovascular health issues because of the damage vaping did to their blood vessels. Of particular interest to the study authors was that vaping caused different negative effects than smoking traditional cigarettes. Lead study author, Matthew L. Springer, Ph.D., a professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at the University of California in San Francisco, stated via the NHLB, "These findings suggest that using the two products together, as many people do, could increase their health risks compared to using them individually. We had not expected to see that."

And there's really no way to make the products "safe," either. The NHLB's second study, which was conducted on rats, tried isolating and testing different effects from various components of the smoking products, such as nicotine, menthol, and acetaldehyde. But they concluded that no singular component caused blood vessel damage, but rather, it was likely caused by an inflammation response triggered by the vagus nerve.