How Healthy(er) are e-Cigarettes?

Woman vaping


In an electronic cigarette or e-cigarette, a liquid is heated and converted into vapor. The user does not breathe in smoke, but a vapor. E-smoking is therefore also called vapors or vapes. The e-cigarette with nicotine is a fairly new product that has also been allowed in certain countries like the Belgian market since 2016. E-cigarettes have been very popular online and are readily available to purchase through websites. There are e-cigarettes with and without nicotine.

Most tobacco smokers who (also) vape use liquid cartridges with nicotine. Because nicotine is an addictive substance, smokers continue to need nicotine. The nicotine is in the inhaled and exhaled vapor.

Is the e-cigarette with nicotine a healthy(er) alternative to the regular cigarette?

That depends on who is asking the question:

  • Are you a smoker? Then the e-cigarette with nicotine is much less harmful to your health than the regular cigarette. That’s because no tobacco is burned. There are smokers who therefore switch from regular cigarettes to e-cigarettes. However, it is ideal to stop both smoking and vaping. If you combine the e-cigarette with a regular cigarette, you will not make any health gains. Only if you no longer smoke regular cigarettes at all, your health will improve.
  • Don’t smoke? Then do not start with the e-cigarette, because the long-term consequences of e-smoking are not yet known. Nicotine is and remains a toxic and very addictive substance and is therefore certainly not innocent. This is all the more true for young people. They are still growing and then the brain is very sensitive to the damage of nicotine. Moreover, the e-cigarette could become a stepping stone to the real tobacco cigarette.

The e-cigarette is healthier than tobacco, but therefore not yet a healthy product.

There are no studies available yet on the use of the e-cigarette in the long term (more than ten years). But most scientists agree that an e-cigarette is less harmful than a regular cigarette. With an ordinary cigarette, a combustion process takes place. This releases many chemicals (e.g. carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene, tar, etc.). Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, of which at least 50 are carcinogenic. These substances increase the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. With an e-cigarette, no combustion takes place but vapor is produced. There are fewer substances in the vapor of an e-cigarette than in the smoke of a regular cigarette.

In short, the e-cigarette is less harmful than tobacco, but therefore not yet a healthy product.


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The use of the shishapen is not recommended because the long-term health consequences are not yet known.

Vaping along?

What about ‘vaping’ (the e-cigarette version of passive smoking or second-hand smoke)? The consequences of evaporation cannot yet be sufficiently estimated. That is why it is better not to smoke in a closed room and e-cigarette smokers should vape outside. In addition, there is also the exemplary role: seeing smoking makes smoking. Another good reason not to vape in the presence of minors. In this way, we also avoid turning smoking back into something normal: the act of vaping is very similar to that of smoking. The environment strongly determines the smoking behavior of children and young people. Seeing smoking makes smoking, and also seeing vapors, makes vapors.

Is the e-cigarette an aid to quitting smoking?

The e-cigarette can be a tool for some to quit smoking. An e-cigarette with nicotine can be used as a nicotine substitute. You can also combine them with other smoking cessation aids.


Just like a regular cigarette, the e-cigarette may not be sold to young people under the age of 18. Advertising and promotion of the e-cigarette are prohibited (except for posters in newsagents and specialized outlets, but from January 2021 that will also be prohibited) and it also falls under the smoking ban in public spaces. Where there is a smoking ban, there is also a vapor ban in force. Since 2016, the online sale of e-cigarettes with nicotine has been prohibited (in order to guarantee the sale of only controlled products).