Ask someone who vapes if they're worried that it might be unsafe, and they'll often give you the same answer: Hey, at least it's better than smoking.
A study published in the journal Addiction looked at e-cigarette usage among over 27,000 people in 28 European countries. The study found that "an estimated 6.1 and 9.2 million EU citizens had quit and reduced smoking with the use of e-cigarettes respectively."
Vaping is an industry in its infancy, allowing cigarette addicts to trade in tobacco for "e-liquids," compounds of nicotine, simple oils and flavoring chemicals.
Some controversial and contested studies show that these flavorings — particularly one chemical called diacetyl — are linked to lung disease. But many vaping advocates and health organizations like the American Heart Association believe that the potential dangers of vaping are negligible compared to the threat of smoking.
In April, the Royal College of Physicians urged nicotine users to switch over to vaping, saying that even if vaping was not wholly safe, it could be thought of as a harm reduction strategy akin to "providing clean needles and syringes to intravenous drug users to reduce the risk of infection, promoting condom use by sex workers, drink-driving laws, protective clothing in sport, and motor vehicle safety measures and emission controls."
Vaping may deter people from smoking, but all of these factors — combined with a lack of research, could keep people from using vaping as an escape from cigarettes, an addiction that kills more Americans every year than heroin, alcohol, car accidents, AIDS, murder and suicide combined.