We all started smoking for different reasons. Most of us will say it was for the stress-relieving effects of nicotine. Some will say it was for the excuse to be doing something with your hands and mouth so that people would be less likely to interact with you. I’d say most people would never claim they started smoking for the fad or because they got told not to smoke.
Since I switched to vaping, I’ve been told by one doctor that ‘it's just the same as smoking’, and I’ve had countless dart-munchers try to convince me to switch back to cigarettes, citing exploding vapes and popcorn lung. It’s as if there’s a notion that vapes are more harmful to your health than smoking traditional cigarettes, which at this point has been totally disproven.
What most anti-tobacco campaigns gloss over is the benefits smokers saw from smoking. It may seem callous to reference in the face of the harm that tobacco does, but there was certainly some good in it for some people. Nicotine can help individuals deal with anxiety, disorganization, and anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities).
The issue, of course, is the harm that tobacco does. Tobacco can’t really offer us anything good without causing severe damage and really just leaving us with ‘net harm’ regardless of any good it might do. This idea of ‘net harm’ versus ‘net good’ is something I urge you to think about as you read.
Vaping reduces the net harm done to your body when taking nicotine and is significantly less harmful than smoking conventional cigarettes (that often mentioned 95% less so). Vaping is excellent for those who need to cut down on costs, while also being ‘less bad’ than smoking. Nicotine is not cancer-causing and honestly isn’t particularly harmful on its own. Nicotine is the only chemical we want while vaping, versus the thousands (all significantly more harmful than nicotine alone) in cigarettes.
I think we all know that smoking is bad for us. Top of the list of ‘bad’ is cancer and heart disease. With smoking, the risk of developing a smoking-related health issue such as cancer or heart disease is almost a certainty.
There’s some good to come from smoking, in ritual and release, but it’s far outweighed by the bad, leaving us with significant net harm.
Conversely, vaping is magnitudes less harmful to our bodies, while still giving us the benefits of stress relief, ritual, and now we see a huge and supportive community emerging. I believe the reduced harm of vaping, coupled with the benefits it offers, leave us with something that has almost no net harm, and we could argue strongly that it’s even doing us more good than harm, leaving us with ‘net good’.
Vaping even has what I’d call a healthier ‘pattern’ than smoking. Smoking is quite short-sighted; you roll a smoke or pull one out of your carton, then smoke it and biff the butt. With vaping, all of your processes require less repetition but are also more involved. If you use a tank, it’s filling and cleaning it every day or two. With RDA’s you’ve got coil building and wicking to keep you going. These all take a bit longer than rolling a cigarette, but you’re not filling your tank every time you want to vape, you’re not re-wicking your RDA every time you take a puff. You still get rituals, but they take a little more time and you get more out of it for longer.
Ultimately, we vape because it reduces the harm of our addiction. Each year, around 5000 people die of smoking-related diseases in New Zealand alone. There are also around 350 deaths caused by second-hand smoke per year. Even by just advocating for vapes, you can save lives. I’d say that’s why we vape.