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How bad is vaping for your health? We’re finally getting answers

As more of us take up vaping and concerns rise about the long-term effects, we now have enough data to get a grip on the health impact – and how it compares to smoking

By Graham Lawton

6 December 2023

New Scientist. Science news and long reads from expert journalists, covering developments in science, technology, health and the environment on the website and the magazine.

Klaus Kremmerz

AS THE old joke goes, when I read about the dangers of smoking, I gave up reading. If you are a vaper, you might feel like you want to stop reading now. Don’t: you need to know this.

I am a vaper. Like many others, I used to smoke and switched to vaping for health reasons. I plan to quit completely, but I haven’t managed it yet. I am sure vaping is better for me than smoking, but I am also sure it is worse than not vaping. I cough in the morning and feel massively addicted to the nicotine. I don’t even really know what I am inhaling. I worry that it will be hard to quit, that I am causing long-term damage to my body and that by vaping, I am susceptible to slipping back down the slope to cigarettes. I also have the same worries for the teenagers I see coming out of school and immediately enveloping themselves in sweet-smelling clouds.

As vaping has increased throughout the Western world, these fears have been repeated often. Part of last month’s King’s Speech in the UK focused on new legislation aiming to create a smoke-free generation in part by cracking down on youth vaping. Worldwide, there have been calls for tougher regulation and more investigation into vaping’s health effects as increasing numbers of children admit to taking up the habit.

But there hasn’t been a huge amount to say on whether fears over health effects are well-founded – until…

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