What Huberman did not mention: vaping is much less harmful than smoking!

One of the most widespread myths surrounding vaping is the idea that vaping is as or more harmful than smoking and that switching to vaping does not improve the health of smokers. While both involve inhaling substances into the lungs, suggesting they share equivalent negative health consequences oversimplifies a complex issue.

This misconception was recently shared by Andrew Huberman on his Huberman lab podcast. On it, Huberman asserted that both smoking and vaping pose similar risks to overall health, particularly impacting lung health and endothelial cells, crucial for vascular health. He also emphasised vaping’s potential for rapid nicotine release, arguing that this feature makes it harder to quit nicotine and is leading to an alarming rise in youth vaping. However, notably absent from the discussion was the acknowledgement that vaping is considerably less harmful than smoking and that it has already helped millions of smokers switch and live healthier lives. Instead, Huberman suggested smokers use lozenges and gums to consume nicotine in a safer manner.

We at the World Vapers’ Alliance aim to challenge this misleading narrative by providing a thorough analysis of the differences between vaping and smoking in terms of health risks. By addressing the misconceptions propagated in the Huberman Lab, we seek to offer clarity and evidence-based insights to empower individuals to make informed decisions about their health. Let’s explore the realities of vaping and smoking to debunk the myths and advocate for harm reduction strategies grounded in scientific evidence.

While it is not risk-free, vaping is considerably less harmful than smoking

While both smoking and vaping can impact lung health and cardiovascular health, it is essential to recognize the fundamental distinctions between them. Smoking involves the combustion of tobacco, releasing thousands of harmful chemicals, including tar and carbon monoxide, which are known to cause cancer and cardiovascular diseases. In contrast, vaping heats a liquid solution, producing an aerosol that typically contains nicotine, but with significantly fewer harmful chemicals compared to tobacco smoke. This absence of carcinogenic substances in e-liquids and the lack of combustion have led to vaping being labelled as 95% less harmful than smoking by Public Health England. 

While it is true that both affect lung and cardiovascular health, and that vaping can have a negative impact on endothelial cells, possibly beyond that of smoking, as Huberman mentioned, the effects are not comparable. The negative effects from vaping on cardiovascular health have been shown to be significantly lower than that of smoking. Switching from smoking to vaping reduces the exposure to toxicants related to cardiovascular diseases, leading to significant improvements in cardiovascular health similar to those of the nicotine replacement therapies recommended by Huberman. Similarly for the lungs, vaping is much less harmful. The risk, for example, of cancer – the most common cancer caused by smoking is lung cancer – from vaping relative to smoking is only 0.4%.

Vaping nicotine is not behind youth vaping

The idea that vaping can cause a much more rapid increase in nicotine concentrations in the blood is misleading. Vaping technology allows users to regulate the level of nicotine they inhale, allowing them to achieve higher nicotine concentrations than smoking, but also lower concentrations or even to vape without nicotine! Typically, smokers who switch to vaping start with similar nicotine levels, but progressively reduce and may even eliminate nicotine.

The idea that higher nicotine concentrations in vaping appeal to young people is therefore wrong. Most young people who vape are or have previously been smokers or would be smokers in the absence of vaping. The causes that lead young people to smoke and vape are varied and may be genetic, behavioural, socio-economic, etc. To stop young people from vaping, we should attack the causes that motivate them, apply smart regulations and penalties to those who sell vaping products to young people, but not blame nicotine that helps adults to use these products to quit smoking.

Lozenges and gums are less harmful than vaping, but also less effective

Huberman mentions that, if the purpose of smoking or vaping is to consume nicotine, the safest way to do so is through traditional nicotine replacement therapies such as lozenges and gum. This statement is correct, but it misses the point why vaping is so popular among ex-smokers! The ritual of vaping is similar to that of smoking, while consuming nicotine through gum or lozenges is very different, and vaping flavours can make it pleasantly. These characteristics have made vaping the most successful smoking cessation method, which is estimated to be twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapies and can lead to quit smoking even to those smokers not looking to quit! In addition, other studies have found that nicotine dependence in smokers can be reduced through vaping more than through gums. In summary, it is true that lozenges and gums are safer, but they simply do not work effectively to quit smoking!

Highlighting the differences can save lives

While Huberman did not say that vaping and smoking are as harmful, he failed to mention the potential of vaping to help smokers quit and live healthier and to improve public health and save millions of lives. Smokers need to know the benefits of vaping in order to make informed choices and switch! Idealised approaches such as asking smokers to quit cold turkey or to use nicotine gums or lozenges do not work. Let’s promote comprehensive harm reduction strategies to help them.


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Vaping can save 200 million lives. 2022 is the year to make this opportunity a reality. Raise your voice. Join our campaign. 

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Vapear puede salvar 200 millones de vidas y los sabores juegan un papel clave para ayudar a los fumadores a dejar de fumar. Sin embargo, los legisladores quieren limitar o prohibir los sabores, poniendo en peligro nuestro esfuerzo por acabar con las muertes relacionadas con el tabaquismo.

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