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Vaping vs Smoking

The Facts About Switching from Smoking to Vaping

Is vaping safer than smoking? This is the question everyone wants to know the answer to, and although the lack of long-term evidence makes it a little difficult to be absolutely certain, there is a lot of evidence building up to support the conclusions of Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians, who both looked at the evidence and said vaping is vastly safer than smoking. But what are the key facts about vaping vs. smoking? If you’re a smoker, will starting to vape help you quit smoking, and will it lead to improvements in your health? Here are the facts without the spin.

Vaping vs. Smoking: Vapor and Smoke Chemistry

The simplest way to understand the likely risks of smoking vs. vaping is to look at the chemicals vapers and smokers are exposed to. The reason for this is simple: the risk when you’re exposed to potentially harmful chemicals increases with the more of the chemical you’re exposed to. This is the key rule of toxicology: the dose makes the poison.

So what chemicals are present in smoke? There are around 7,000 chemicals present in smoke, and about 250 are known to be harmful, with 69 carcinogens among them. These include arsenic, benzo-a-pyrene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, beryllium, tobacco-specific nitrosamines, carbon monoxide, lead, acetone and many others. For the question of the risks of vaping vs. smoking, the comparison with the chemicals in vapor looks damning, to say the least.

The most well-known summary of the research looking at the chemicals in vapor is Igor Burstyn’s “Peering through the mist” systematic review. This looked at both peer-reviewed and “grey” literature on the chemistry of e-cigarettes, and although it doesn’t offer direct comparisons with the quantities in smoke, it does provide a comprehensive look at the chemistry of e-cig vapor, and compares the levels of the chemicals to the amounts of them people are allowed to be exposed to in the workplace.

The review found that e-cigarette vapor, in addition to propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine and food flavorings (the main ingredients of e-liquid), contains small quantities of tobacco-specific nitrosamines, acrolein, formaldehyde, pyrene, toluene, acetone, aluminium, cadmium, nickel and several other chemicals. The vast majority of these would only expose vapers to much less than 1 percent of the workplace limit. 

For the issue of smoking vs. vaping, several individual studies have compared levels of chemicals in tobacco smoke with those in vapor. One famous example is a study that looked at 12 different brands of e-cigarette and found that while vapor did contain some toxic chemicals, the levels were between 9 and 450 times lower than in tobacco smoke, and often comparable to levels in a pharmaceutical nicotine inhaler. Other studies have found greater differences, such as levels of harmful and potentially harmful chemicals in vapor being 1,500 times lower than in smoke. For tobacco-specific nitrosamines (a group of carcinogens), levels are between 500 and 1,400 times lower than in cigarettes.

This is a lot of information to take in, but the key conclusion is simple: there are much fewer harmful chemicals in e-cigarette vapor than in cigarette smoke, and any that are present are in much lower quantities. If you were exposed to vaping-like levels of most of the detected chemicals at work, it wouldn’t be expected to pose a significant risk. The only possible exceptions to this are propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, but neither of these is known to be harmful. For vaping vs. smoking in terms of chemistry, vaping wins hands-down.

Health Effects of Vaping vs. Smoking: What We Know

Although the chemistry of vape vs. smoke provides a strong argument that vaping is safer than smoking, the important thing for the question of the risks is what the effects on human users are. For vaping, the amount we know at present is limited, but what we do know supports the idea that vaping is much safer than smoking.

First, let’s cover the risks of smoking. Everybody knows that smoking is one of the worst lifestyle choices you can make when it comes to your health. It is known to increase your risk of coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times, increase the risk of lung cancer by around 25 times (a little more for women), increase your risk of stroke by 2 to 4 times, and also increase your risk of a multitude of other health problems – such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), increased blood pressure and risk of clotting, diabetes, decreased immune function and more. The basic message is that smoking is really bad for you.

For vaping, the evidence on this type of health risk is quite limited, but there have been several studies which can give some insight into the vaping vs. smoking question. Two studies have looked at the impact of vaping on the heart and blood pressure, and both found either no impact from vaping or a much smaller effect than from smoking, although these were only over the short-term. Other studies have looked at the effect of vaping on the lungs, such as this one which found that vaping led to a decrease in exhaled nitric oxide levels and an increase in airway resistance. However, these changes were very small, and are unlikely to represent a genuine increase in real-world risk, and there were no changes in spirometry readings, which are the most widely-used lung function tests.

As with the chemistry studies, studies looking at the impact of vaping vs. smoking on humans suggest that vaping is much safer than smoking for the individual user. 

The Unknowns and the Knowns

The biggest issue for determining the risks of vaping vs. smoking for health is that there are still some unknowns when it comes to the potential risks of vaping. But the key point is that the comparison is between the unknown – but probably minimal – risks of vaping and the well-established and very serious health impacts of smoking. The choice is between something possibly a little bit bad and something definitely really bad. For the smoker making a choice between vaping and smoking, the decision is really quite straightforward.

Vaping vs. Smoking Health Risks: Vaping is Much Safer Than Smoking

Public Health England, in their review of the evidence on e-cigarettes, estimated that vaping is around 95 % safer than smoking. For anybody following the scientific evidence, this conclusion wasn’t surprising, but for the public (who generally learn about the research through the media), this contradicted many of their opinions on the vaping vs. smoking issue. As pointed out in the review, around 45 percent of the public don’t know that vaping is safer than smoking.

The conclusion reached by Public Health England was bolstered recently by a report from the Royal College of Physicians. While they pointed out that making a definite prediction of how much safer vaping is than smoking isn’t really possible yet, they argued that the 95 % estimated by Public Health England is probably the maximum risk possible, even accounting for what we don’t know yet.

So for the health risks of vaping vs. smoking, the answer is that vaping is much safer than smoking, based on everything we know so far.

Making Vaping Safer: A Huge Benefit Over Smoking

The question of the risks of vaping vs. smoking has largely been answered, despite some uncertainty, but there is another point that’s worth stressing. Although you can choose which additives you use when manufacturing a cigarette, most of the harmful chemicals in smoke come from the smoking process itself rather than what’s added into the cigarette. In other words, the risks of smoking are unavoidable, and can’t easily be reduced by a combustible product.

For vaping, the situation is very different. Temperature control mods enable users to completely avoid the “dry puffs” which are accompanied by increases in the amount of formaldehyde given off by e-cigs, thus making vaping even safer than it was before. Similarly, diacetyl is a flavoring chemical linked to lung disease, present in both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. For cigarettes, this is almost necessary because it masks the horrible taste of smoke, but for e-cigs, it can be easily removed. Respectable juice companies like Black Note refuse to use diacetyl in their e-juice, and even provide lab reports confirming the absence of this and other potentially harmful chemicals.

The key point for the vaping vs. smoking question is that vaping can be made even safer by manufacturing standards and controls on ingredients, but this isn’t possible with smoking. 

Does Vaping Help Smokers Quit?

The benefits of switching to vaping will only be realized if vapers successfully switch to vaping or at least substantially reduce their smoking. So it’s important to ask: does vaping really help smokers quit?

This is one area where evidence is unfortunately quite limited, but there are many reasons to assume that vaping is effective for helping smokers quit. Firstly, nicotine patches, gums and inhalers all help smokers quit, and this has been definitively established by high-quality research. Although this isn’t an air-tight argument, the reasonable conclusion from this is that giving smokers a replacement source of nicotine – regardless of what product it’s in – helps smokers quit. So the abundant testimonials from smokers who’ve quit by vaping are a very good reason to believe that vaping does help smokers quit.

But this isn’t the best form of evidence, especially if we’re interested in how effective vaping is for quitting overall. However, a comprehensive systematic review of the evidence on vaping for quitting smoking (conducted by the highly-respected Cochrane Collaboration) concluded that e-cigarettes do help smokers both quit and reduce the amount they smoke. The low number of studies meant that the evidence was graded as “low” quality overall, but the conclusion was still positive. 

We have a more detailed discussion of this here.

Vaping vs. Smoking: The Experience and the Flavor

Although the most important issue for vaping vs. smoking cigarettes is the risks of the two, there is more to consider from a user’s perspective. How does the experience of vaping compare to the experience of smoking? And what about the flavor?

For the experience, vaping is very similar to smoking, but not identical. It’s used in exactly the same way, but the different chemistry and the lack of combustion in vaping means there are some differences. Propylene glycol in e-liquid creates a “throat hit” similar to that you experience when smoking, but it’s still not quite as robust, and vapor is generally cooler than smoke, so it feels a lot different when you inhale. Smoking is also more effective at getting you nicotine, and smoke also contains several other chemicals which increase the addictiveness of nicotine.

For flavor, though, vaping beats smoking hands-down. Not only does e-liquid come in a huge range of flavors, including dessert and fruit-inspired flavors, you can also get much more enjoyment out of high-quality tobacco e-juices. When you smoke tobacco, the flavor of the tobacco is partially masked by the masses of harmful chemicals produced when you combust it. However, naturally-extracted tobacco (NET) e-juice like Black Note takes the authentic flavor directly from high-quality tobacco leaves, providing a much cleaner, more flavorful experience that still captures the complexities and nuances of real tobacco. In a nutshell, vaping is a much better platform for creating delicious tastes than smoking. 

Vaping vs. Smoking: The Conclusion

Overall, from a health risks perspective, vaping is much safer than smoking based on all of the evidence we have so far, and the impact of the stuff we don’t know is highly unlikely to change that conclusion. Not only does vaping appear to be useful for smokers trying to quit or cut down their smoking, switching to vaping is almost certainly a way to reduce the risks to your health from your nicotine addiction.

If the choice is between vaping and smoking, vaping is the better option. But the best option is undoubtedly to neither vape nor smoke.

Lee Johnson

Lee Johnson

Writer at Black Note
Lee Johnson is a writer and vaper from the UK. He started vaping in 2012, and since then has contributed to E-Cigarette Reviewed, E-Cigarette Direct’s Ashtray Blog and Vaping360. He strongly believes smokers need accurate information about vaping and other reduced-harm alternatives to smoking. He has a degree in physics from the Open University and a passion for all forms of science.
Lee Johnson

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What is Naturally Extracted Tobacco E-Liquid?

E-juice, also known as e-liquid or vaping liquid, is the liquid that’s placed in the vaping device and subsequently atomized into vapor. When you go to buy e-juice, you’ll notice it contains a mix of several ingredients. These typically include vegetable glycerin (VG), propylene glycol (PG), some type of flavoring, and nicotine.

VG and PG form the base of the e-liquid. VG is a component used in food and personal care products; its role in e-liquid is to create a thick, dense vapor. PG is another popular solvent used in a variety of everyday items. It carries the e-liquid flavor, provides the “throat hit,” and enhances the vaping liquid’s ability to soak into wicks or cartomizer materials.

Nicotine is an optional ingredient, often available in different levels. E-juice also contains some type of flavoring.

Black Note leads the pack of tobacco vaping liquid by using only natural flavoring – extract from real tobacco leaves to produce real tobacco taste. When you go to buy e-juice from other companies, you may find any number of chemicals used to create synthetic flavors that include fake strawberry, manufactured vanilla, and even man-made tobacco flavors.

If your aim when you buy e-liquid is to experience the subtle nuances, genuine flair and authentic taste of real tobacco, then you’ll be on the mark if you buy e-juice from the Black Note lineup.

Best E-Juice

When you’re going to buy e-liquid, it’s only natural you’ll want the best e-liquid. But what, exactly, does it “best e-juice” mean? We’ll tell you.

For starters, you’ll want an e-juice that doesn’t contain all kinds of strange chemicals and concoctions that you can’t even pronounce. True, even the best e-liquid will contain vegetable glycerin (VG) and proplene glycol (PG), which serve as the base of e-juice, but you don’t necessarily need a host of other chemical compounds.

The best e-juice will stick to natural ingredients, like real tobacco extract, rather than rely on synthetic flavorings, colorings and other additives. Diacetyl is one of those synthetic ingredients that has gotten a pretty bad rap, although its use is not all that uncommon for producing sweet e juice flavors.

Definitely read the ingredient list before you buy e-juice to ensure you recognize what’s on it. Better yet, see if the e-juice company offers a lab report to confirm what’s actually inside the e-liquid.

In addition to having as few chemical ingredients as possible, the best e-juice will have an amazing taste. For those who enjoy authenticity over imitation, the most amazing taste is the most natural taste, especially when it comes to tobacco. Since Black Note uses real extract from tobacco leaves, we not only avoid all those weird chemical flavorings, but we also produce the most authentic experience: tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like tobacco.

Best E-Liquid on the Market

Anyone looking for the best e-liquid on the market need look no further than Black Note. Black Note tobacco vaping liquid ranks as the best e-juice across the board in every category, starting with the taste.

Black Note’s main claim to fame is producing a tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like real tobacco. That because we use real tobacco extract, not chemicals, to create the best e-juice tobacco flavor. Using extract from real tobacco leaves retains tobacco’s nuances and flavor notes, giving you the most authentic and multi-faceted tobacco experience.

In addition to being the best e-juice for tobacco taste, Black Note also has the best e-liquid manufacturing process. We spent years researching and testing various production methods, and finally landed on one that we believe is absolutely perfect.

It starts with growing carefully selected tobacco seeds, followed by an equally precise of steps that include an extensive natural extraction process. Even our bottling and packaging is done with the utmost care, using recycled and recyclable packaging materials to ensure our products are as earth-friendly as they are vapor-friendly.

One more category where Black Note ranks as the best e-liquid is with the value. Every order comes with free domestic shipping, one-to-three day domestic shipping guarantee, and a 90-day, money-back satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not happy for any reason, or don’t agree we’re the best e-juice on the market, send it back on us and we’ll refund your money.

Vape Juice Ingredients

Vape juice ingredients can be pretty straightforward – or not. At the very least, most vape juice contains propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerin (VG), and some type of flavoring. Nicotine has largely become an optional ingredient that can be included at varying levels or left out altogether.

Vegetable glycerin (VG) and propylene glycol (PG) are usually the two main ingredients that make up the base of most vape juice.

VG is a plant-based substance with the ability to produce a dense, thick vapor. PG is an additive found in many food items and certain medicines. It carries the flavoring, provides the “throat hit” and enhances the vape juice’s ability to soak into the wicking materials.

Nicotine levels can vary, as can ingredients that make up the flavorings. The components that make up vape juice flavoring are where ingredients can get rather complicated.

Vape juice that relies on artificial flavorings can contain any number of extraneous chemicals and other additives, whatever it takes to recreate the flavor the ecig juice is going for.

Black Note uses only natural flavorings: extract from real tobacco leaves. That keeps our ingredient list incredibly simple, backed by a lab report to prove it. You won’t find any strange chemical concoctions used to produce our tobacco flavor, just real tobacco extract that delivers a real tobacco experience.

What is the Best Flavor for Ecig Juice?

From strawberry shortcake to banana rum, ecig juice comes in tons of flavors. While folks can debate and discuss all the fruity, sweet or food-like flavors all day long, the best flavor for e-cig liquid is straight-up tobacco.

Why? Vaping was originally created as an alternative for traditional cigarettes, mainly for those who enjoy the taste of tobacco. And when you can find an e-cig liquid that is able to recreate tobacco’s full-bodied yet delicate flavor notes and nuances, but without the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes, then you’ve found the best ecig juice.

Recreating tobacco’s complex flavor isn’t easy, especially when it’s attempted with artificial ingredients. That’s why Black Note sticks to the real thing, extracting the essence of real tobacco leaves to flavor our vaping liquid. Not only does this avoid the harmful chemicals in cigarettes, but it also eliminates the flavoring chemicals found in many ecig juices. The end result is real tobacco taste, an authentic tobacco experience and the best flavor for ecig juice you can find.

Notice also we said the best e-cig flavor was straight-up tobacco, not plain old tobacco. Black Note’s real tobacco vaping liquid happens to come in a variety of different blends, from the light and airy to the peppery and robust. Not all tobacco is created equal, and different blends capture the specialized subtleties that make each tobacco unique.

Best Sweet Tobacco E-Juice

When it comes to sweet tobacco e-juice, your options can be broken down into two categories.

The first category contains tobacco e-juice that overlays the tobacco flavor with artificial chocolate, caramel, vanilla, fruity or other dessert-like flavorings. We wouldn’t classify any such flavors as the best tobacco e liquid, simply because they typically use chemicals and other artificial ingredients to create the tobacco taste, the sweet taste, or both.

The second category of sweet tobacco e-juice is where you’ll find the best tobacco e-liquid, sweet or otherwise. This category contains vaping liquid created using only natural flavorings, which is exactly where Black Note fits in. Instead of concocting flavors using synthetic ingredients, Black Note uses an extensive extraction process that slowly and deliberately extracts the tobacco essence from real tobacco leaves.

The result is the best tobacco e-juice: tobacco vaping liquid that actually tastes like real tobacco. And if you’re going for the best sweet tobacco e liquid, we have a few tobacco blends that offer varying levels of sweetness.

Prelude is our sweetest tobacco e-liquid, containing golden Virginia tobacco. Made from fire-cured dark Virginia tobacco, Sonata is our Cavendish blend with a mildly sweet and nutty flavor. Solo is our menthol blend, giving you a semi-sweet minty taste created from natural menthol crystals extract from dried mint leaves.

For the best tobacco e-liquid that’s naturally sweet and remarkably delicious, Black Note is at your service.

WARNING: Black Note products are not smoking cessation products and have not been tested as such. Black Note products are intended for use by adults of legal smoking age (21 or older in California), and not by children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Black Note products contain nicotine, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Ingestion of the non-vaporized concentrated ingredients can be poisonous. Keep out of reach of children and pets.

WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.