30 Minutes of Vaping Equals 5 Minutes of Cigarette Smoking?

cigarettes and e-cigarettes
General Health

If you’ve tossed your pack of tobacco cigarettes aside for an e-cigarette thinking that it was a healthier choice…well, you might be wrong. A new study presented in August at the European Society for Cardiology congress in Rome shows that vaping may be nearly as bad for your heart as smoking cigarettes. [1]

The findings contradict a 2015 Public Health England (PHE) finding that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. The agency went so far as to call for doctors to be able to prescribe e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation method for patients.

Bottom line: There’s not enough conclusive evidence to prove or disprove the safety of vaping, but if you can beat your addiction to nicotine, it’s worth it, because both come with risks.

The Latest Research

For the newest study, researchers looked at a group of 24 adult smokers who agreed to have their hearts monitored while they vaped and while they smoked regular tobacco cigarettes. They found that 30 minutes of vaping – considered a typical habit, as e-cigarettes deliver nicotine at a slower rate – affected the stiffness of the aorta in a similar way as smoking a cigarette for 5 minutes.

Lead researcher Prof Charalambos Vlachopoulos, from the University of Athens Medical School said:

“We measured aortic stiffness. If the aorta is stiff you multiply your risk of dying, either from heart diseases or from other causes.”

He went on:

“The aorta is like a balloon next to the heart. The more stiff the balloon is, the more difficult for the heart to pump. It’s the most powerful biomarker we have for estimating cardiovascular risk.” [2]

Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Read: 7 Huge Overlooked Downsides of Smoking

Vlachopoulos said the long-term risks of vaping are still unknown, but unlike the PHE, he wouldn’t tell anyone to start doing it.

“There could be long-term heart dangers. They are far more dangerous than people realise. I wouldn’t recommend them now as a method to give up smoking. I think the UK has rushed into adopting this method.”

Questions Remain

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the U.K.’s Action on Smoking and Health took issue with the findings, saying the study “does not prove that e-cigarettes are as hazardous as smoking.” [3]

Arnott pointed out that the study notes that if a vaping session was limited to 5 minutes, it would affect aortic stiffness far less than smoking a cigarette.

Tom Pruen, chief scientific officer for the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association, agreed with that assessment, adding:

“Lots of things have short term effects on aortic stiffness – and nicotine is already known to do this. On the other hand, so does caffeine, and in both cases it is transitory, without any significant long term effect.”

But it’s not just the health effects that have health officials worried. A study published in the journal Pediatrics in July found that teens are becoming hooked on nicotine through vaping, and often wind up turning to regular cigarettes because of it.


[1] Fox News

[2] The Huffington Post U.K.

[3] The Telegraph

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute