Vaping and electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or e-cigs) are quite the trends these days. While e-cigs have been available in the U.S. since 2008 and have grown more popular in recent years, the effects of such devices were not known and widely recognized until the last few years. Currently, new evidence is starting to emerge on the short-term effects of e-cigs, as well as their potential positive and negative impact on users’ health.

First, we must understand how e-cigarettes work. E-cigs are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid or oil, which usually contain nicotine mixed with the chemicals glycerin and propylene glycol, along with other flavorings, such as peach, bubble gum, or watermelon, just to name a few. The battery heats the liquid cartridge inserted into the device and converts it into a vapor that users can inhale. As a result, the device delivers nicotine, which is a highly addictive drug, to the user’s body without producing smoke. However, there is a vapor cloud that is expelled after inhalation.

Vaping, on the other hand, is a bit different. While the delivery system is similar, the contents of a vape cartridge can be radically different from that of an e-cig. Namely, the use of a vape pen, which is very similar to the delivery device for e-cigs, and their cartridges are more closely associated with medical marijuana than a traditional e-cigarette at this point. This is a very important distinction to be aware of, especially for those who are exploring the benefits of e-cigs to quit smoking, as well as the criteria and potential pitfalls of medical marijuana.

In vaping, medical marijuana users purchase vape cartridges, which contain their selected strain of cannabis in liquid or tincture form, and load the cartridge into the battery-powered device, which is known as a vape pen, just like with a traditional e-cig. However, medical marijuana cartridges do not contain any nicotine.

Another important difference between vaping and traditional e-cigs is that medical marijuana users are often not smokers, and therefore, many of the concerns and/or side effects attributed to traditional e-cig users, who are often current or former smokers, do not apply to vapers.

Some of the health effects associated with e-cigs include an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, elevated blood pressure, slower or drawn-out smoking cessation rates, respiratory issues, cancer, pregnancy risks, etc.

While potential health concerns are being raised about the effects of traditional e-cigarettes, many of these issues do not translate to vaping, especially when practiced by medical marijuana users who are not current or former smokers.