Vaping For Smoking Cessation: Is It An Effective Tool?

Vaping For Smoking Cessation: Is It An Effective Tool?
Vaping For Smoking Cessation: Is It An Effective Tool?

A recent whitepaper by the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that the number of smokers worldwide is in decline. It estimates that the prevalence of tobacco users aged 15 and above will drop to 20.4% by 2025 from 22.3% in 2020.

Amid the decline, Africa will still have the least number of smokers, projected to go down to 9.1% by 2025 from 10.3% in 2020. It’ll be one of three continents to exceed the WHO’s 30% tobacco use reduction target, alongside the Americas and Southeast Asia. That said, the figure still translates to tens of millions at risk of deadly diseases.

As calls among countries to make tobacco harm reduction a priority increase, so does the market for such alternatives. Five African nations, including Nigeria, enable the sale of vaping products, which many users vouch for being a great help in tobacco withdrawal. But are they as effective as they claim to be?

Vaping For Smoking Cessation: Is It An Effective Tool? - Brand Spur

The Role Of Vaping

The main argument behind vaping being less dangerous than tobacco is the chemical makeup of both substances. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, 250 of which are harmful to the body and 69 known to cause cancer. Some examples include toxic metals (e.g., beryllium, cadmium), benzene, and formaldehyde.

People who don’t smoke aren’t necessarily safe, especially near smokers. Secondhand smoke is just as dangerous, a well-known cause of lung cancer and heart disease. Despite the country’s stringent smoke-free policy restricting smoking to designated areas, many Nigerians remain vulnerable to secondhand smoke, whether inside their homes or in public.

On the other hand, vaping liquids bought from online stores such as and others contain fewer chemicals. One study by John Hopkins University (JHU) researchers in the U.S. last year found an estimated 2,000 chemicals in the liquid.

Additionally, vaping doesn’t produce smoke but vapour instead. Vape kits burn a water-based liquid containing propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine, among other substances. The vape eliminates some dangerous chemicals like tar and carbon monoxide.

Conflicting Results

Researchers have studied the link between vaping and smoking cessation for the past few years. But conflicting results and flaws in their methodologies have prevented them from reaching a consensus. To this day, no one can say for sure.

A 2019 British study concluded that people who resorted to vaping for a year were twice more likely to quit smoking than those who underwent nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). However, it was criticised for several points, like an imbalance of NRTs used. Most of the NRT group used patches that take effect far slower than other forms.

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It also doesn’t help that most existing studies aren’t randomised control trials, which can remove population bias and produce more accurate assessments. Many studies are observational, which tends to yield inconsistent results. Some say vaping is more effective in quitting smoking, while others say it’s just as effective.

Another study in 2019 even suggested that vape users could pick up smoking within two years. While it focused on users between 12 and 15 years old, it supports the notion that vaping and smoking cessation don’t have a clear-cut relationship.

Not Risk-Free

As far as the number of chemicals and vapour are concerned, vaping is undeniably safer than cigarettes. However, it doesn’t imply that they don’t present a health risk. The JHU research mentioned earlier stresses that it has yet to identify most of the 2,000-or-so chemicals in the vaping liquid. In this case, users can be inhaling something deadly.

The substances used to make the thousands of vape liquid flavourings in the market aren’t clear, as well. For instance, some flavourings may contain saccharides—a sweetening agent—that can turn into a respiratory irritant known as an aldehyde.

Perhaps the most definitive risk factor in vaping is the presence of nicotine. Although vape juice delivers about half as much nicotine as a cigarette, users must vape consistently to get enough for a so-called ‘buzz.’ Since nicotine is responsible for making cigarettes addictive, it’s possible for vaping to defeat the purpose of withdrawal.

Nicotine’s other effects include erectile dysfunction, mouth and throat irritation, reduced blood sugar, and green tobacco sickness. In worst-case scenarios, it can also promote several types of cancer, namely lung, gastrointestinal, and breast.


The decline in the number of smokers worldwide is welcome news, a sign that more people are aware of the dangers of smoking. Those who used to smoke a pack or two daily may have begun abstaining from cigarettes for good.

Regardless, it’s important to be aware of the available options for smoking cessation. Vaping, as one such option, may be safer, but it doesn’t mean it can’t do any lasting harm. Current studies have yet to clearly depict its effectiveness in withdrawing from tobacco. As such, it may be wise to rely more on tried-and-true methods like NRT and behavioural therapy.