Is vape less harmful to health than cigarettes?

The electronic cigarette, also called vape, has gained popularity among young people as a less harmful alternative to health than the conventional cigarette, based on the premise that it does not burn tobacco to release nicotine.

While it doesn’t have many of the toxic substances in tobacco, vape has a high concentration of nicotine – a highly addictive substance – and releases other components.

“The device has a tank where a concentrated nicotine liquid is placed, which is heated and inhaled. This liquid has a solvent product and a flavor chemical. In other words, we have no doubt that electronic cigarettes are harmful”, says oncologist Carlos Gil Ferreira, president of the Instituto Oncoclínicas.


According to the National Cancer Institute (Inca), electronic cigarettes can cause respiratory diseases, such as pulmonary emphysema, cardiovascular diseases, dermatitis and cancer.

Inhaling hot vapors can also cause damage to the mouth and throat. Another problem is that, as there is no regulation for the use of electronic cigarettes in Brazil, it is impossible to certify the origin and standardization of the liquids used in the device.

Chemicals for flavor

A study by Duke University in the United States found that e-cigarette manufacturers are using excess levels of menthol-like substances in their products.

Scientists found levels of the WS-3 and WS-23 toxins above those considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the fluid. “E-cigarette manufacturers are ‘flying blind’ when adding these chemicals,” the study authors said.

Adhesion among young people

One in five young people aged between 18 and 24 use e-cigarettes in Brazil, according to data from the Covitel study by the Ministry of Health.

“Diseases caused by electronic cigarettes have emerged early, claiming lives, most of them young people”, says oncologist Florentino Cardoso, head of the Federal Council of Medicine and medical executive director of Hospital Care, in Campinas.

Severe subacute respiratory illness is the most common, especially among young people. The main symptoms are difficulty breathing, cough and chest pain.

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