Vaping Vs. Smoking, Is There A Difference?

Nikhil Goswami

There was a period when marijuana was banned entirely in the United States. However, things have changed over the past decade. As time went on, marijuana laws in many states changed. In fact, you can find the best Delta-8 pre-rolls and hemp cigarettes, and e-juices in the market.

Marijuana, a drug once classified as a potentially dangerous substance, is now recognized for its medicinal properties. Many believe that this medicinal plant can be used to manage several medical conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, cancer, etc.

Furthermore, several states have also legalized the recreational use of marijuana. However, remember that marijuana is still considered illegal by the United States federal government. That said, in stats where you can legally use marijuana, you can find them in three different forms. You can:

  • Smoke it
  • Eat it
  • Vape it (Also called vaping)

There have been some recent investigations regarding how safe vaping is. Hence, you might wonder what the best way to consume it is. Read on to find out more.

Risks Of E-Cigarettes And Smoking

Health specialists have always warned the masses about the adverse effects of inhaling tobacco smoke and other forms of smoke, regardless of the source. However, marijuana comes with some compounds called cannabinoids. Research suggests that these compounds have several health benefits, and one of the most prevalent cannabinoids is cannabidiol (CBD). 

This is one of the reasons why people believe it is safer to use marijuana than tobacco smoking. While this may be true, vaping and smoking marijuana negatively affect your health. These include lung disease, cardiovascular disease, and higher cancer risk. 

That said, researchers have more experience dealing with the long-term effects of smoking cigarettes than using e-cigarettes. However, research has shown that e-cigarettes have fewer dangerous chemicals than traditional cigarettes and can help individuals quit smoking altogether. Nevertheless, both smoking and vaping have potentially volatile organic compounds. So, what are the effects of smoking and vaping? Is vaping bad?

Risks Of Vaping

Nowadays, the market is loaded with best vape cartridges allowing users to enjoy vaping with their preferred flavor. While vaping is less harmful than smoking tobacco, it comes with risks. Most people use e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking. They opt for e-cigarettes as a way to transition from traditional cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction. 

Vaping marijuana involves you using a vaporizing device (e-cigarette). These devices heat oils to create an aerosol that you inhale. Alternatively, you could use vaporizers, which produce vapor from dried marijuana.

Since vaping does not involve inhaling marijuana or cigarette smoke, several people assume it is safer than marijuana and tobacco cigarettes. However, there is not enough research or evidence to prove this assumption. 

This is because vaping is relatively new on the scene, and we do not know enough about its adverse health effects. Yet, recent research shows that vaping tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oil can be quite deadly to the lungs. The most considerable risk has to be the lethal effects of vitamin E acetate inhalation. 

You can find this additive chemical in several e-cigarettes that use THC. Cannabis dissolves in this substance and can significantly deteriorate your lungs when you inhale it.

Risks Of Smoking 

Unlike vaping devices, marijuana and tobacco smoking has been around for a long time. Therefore, health professionals and even non-specialists know about its adverse side effects. Inhaling smoke, regardless of its source, be it marijuana, burning tobacco, or other potentially harmful substances, is terrible for your lungs. 

Daily cigarette users inhale more toxic chemicals than daily e-cigarette users, but they are all harmful. Typically, weed users hold the smoke in their lungs for longer periods than cigarette users. Hence, they expose themselves to more tar or carbon monoxide, and these substances are deadly to the lungs. Some possible adverse effects of smoking weed extensively include:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Wheezing
  • Increased risk of respiratory infections
  • Production of excess mucus
  • Cough
  • Air pocket between the chest wall and the lungs.
  • Higher risk of infections in people with immune system-based health conditions (such as people with HIV)
  • Weaker immune system.

Vaping-Related Ailments

In 2019, adult smokers started getting rushed to the hospital due to lung-related illnesses that eventually caused lung injuries. In about 80% of cases, these illnesses have been linked to e-cigarettes infused with THC. At the end of 2019, over 2,500 e-cigarette users in the United States, including two U.S. territories and the District of Columbia, were diagnosed with lung injury.

 Furthermore, in February 2020, over 2800 were diagnosed with this same condition. Ultimately, the illness became known as e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury (EVALI). Alternatively, you could call it “popcorn lung.”

Researchers believe EVALI is caused by vitamin E acetate additives found in some fake THC products. In addition, they also found opioids, pesticides, heavy metals, poisons, and fungicide, which converts into hydrogen cyanide when heated. However, the exact reason behind EVALI is yet to be determined. 

That said, this vaping illness also affects young adults, and daily e-cigarette use can lead to severe health problems. Hence, the CDC suggests people stop vaping or using e-cigarettes containing THC oil. This is because the chances of that product containing vitamin E acetate is relatively high. Although the harmful effects of vaping oils and liquids are not fully known, early studies show that using it even once is extremely detrimental to your lungs.

The known effects of vaping are so limited yet worrisome that several states that have legalized marijuana have started taking measures to ensure vaping is discontinued. This is why these states warn users about the frightening drawbacks of vaping, such as lung damage and possibly death in healthy adults. You can visit the CDC website if you want to know more about vaping-related ailments or keep up to date on the latest discoveries on this condition.

How To Vape And Smoke Marijuana

Vaping and smoking have the same therapeutic effects but work differently. Here is how to vape and smoke marijuana.

How To Vape

A vaping device involves people using dry ground herbs or concentrated extracts. People who use e-cigarettes consume a more concentrated form of marijuana. Hence, it is a more potent mechanism than smoking. Essentially, you will likely attain a more powerful high vaping than smoking. 

Unlike smoking which gives off smoke, vaping liquids involve using vaporizers that use small metal coils and batteries to heat a substance and evaporate it. With that said, there are three ways you can vape cannabis. This is because there are different types of vaporizers. These include herb vaporizers, oil pens, and wax pens.

  • Dry Herb Vaporizers: Best portable dry herb vaporizers are one the amazing pick for vape lovers. These vaporizers include a chamber where you add the dried cannabis flower parts. The device then heats the compounds in the plant, which turn into concentrated vapor. The vaporizer is designed to heat the cannabis plant optimally. Therefore, it heats the plant to the right temperature to ensure it doesn’t burn. 

This means the tar or carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) you typically inhale from a pipe or other method are significantly minimized. Furthermore, some vaporizers come with temperature settings that allow you to adjust the size of vapor and flavor you inhale.

  • Oil Pens: Oil pens work similarly to herb vaporizers. However, instead of herbs, you use an oil concentrate. The oil concentrate comes directly from the cannabis plant. But, cannabis oil is often mixed with another carrier oil, for example, hemp oil. Therefore, oil pens are not as potent as wax pens but more potent than herb vaporizers. Oil pens are the most well-known devices by young adults and novices. 

This is because they are clean and relatively straightforward to use. You have two options when it comes to oil pens. The first choice is to buy a single-use pen. When the pen runs out of oil, you must dispose of it. Alternatively, you can buy a reusable vaporizer with oil cartridge attachments. These attachments come with various flavors and cannabis strains. That said, the single-use pen can last for up to several weeks.

  • Wax Pens: Wax is somewhere in between dry herbs and oil concentrate. It is a semi-solid substance, but regardless, it is extracted from the cannabis plant. Hence, it has a high concentration of active compounds found in marijuana. Furthermore, it is not mixed with carrier oils, which is why it is more potent than herb and oil vaporizers. Wax pens have three main parts: the battery, mouthpiece, and atomizer. 

You buy the wax separately and add it to the atomizers. This atomizer is where a coil heats the wax and vaporizes it. However, wax can be expensive, and you must load it into the atomizer often. That said, using a wax pen is very potent and possibly the most efficient method, which is why most people opt for this method.

How To Smoke Marijuana?

When smoking marijuana, you can use concentrates or dried plant parts. Also, you have several ways of smoking the plant. They include:

  • Using rolling paper. This is possibly the most common way to smoke marijuana. Users simply roll dried parts of the plant into the cigarette paper. The resulting product is called a joint.
  • Using a spliff. This means mixing marijuana with some tobacco to reduce its potency so that it is not as intoxicating.
  • Using a bong or pipe to smoke it. This method includes inputting small quantities of marijuana into these tools and burning the plant to inhale the smoke.
  • Lastly, people can smoke higher potency variants of marijuana. These variants are called concentrates. Examples include kief and hash.

Difference Between Smoking And Vaping Marijuana

Despite having similar negative and positive health effects, smoking and vaping marijuana are entirely different methods. One produces smoke, while the other produces aerosol. However, that is not the only difference between these two. 

According to a study, researchers discovered that infrequent and novice marijuana users are more likely to experience adverse effects from vaping compared to smoking. Both smoking and THC vaping products take effect in about the same amount of time. You should feel the impact of both methods almost immediately. Also, their effects peak in about 10 to 15 minutes.

Most professionals suggest you start vaping or smoking slowly and work your way up. This means using a small amount initially and waiting for at least 30 minutes before taking more. If you are a novice and try to do otherwise, you might take too much and have a terrible experience using marijuana.

 Additionally, it is essential to note that marijuana comes in different strains and these strains have varying effects on other people. Keep in mind that while these strains have specific properties and functions, they do not always have the same effect on people. Essentially, what works for someone might not work for you.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Smoking And Vaping

Both methods of taking marijuana are effective and can potentially give you the results you are looking for. However, neither approach is perfect, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of them.

Benefits Of Vaping

First and foremost, electronic cigarettes are generally considered safer for your lung health than tobacco cigarettes and other tobacco products. This is because of the reduced tar and other carcinogens. However, there are other benefits, such as flavor and temperature control. Here are some benefits of e-cigarette use:

Bold Flavors: When vaping, you have a more diverse option in terms of flavor when compared to smoking. With vaping, you can taste each strain’s terpenes and cannabinoid components. On the other hand, you do not get this benefit from smoking. But, the more you vape, the milder the flavor would be at the end of the session.

Help With Nicotine Addiction: Quitting smoking is hard; that is why there are devices that help curb nicotine addiction. One of the best things about e-cigarettes is how people can use them to quit smoking. Cigarette smoking can be highly addictive because of nicotine. 

Hence, tobacco smokers use e-cigarettes as nicotine replacement therapy for traditional cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are more effective than other nicotine replacement products. So, if you are a smoker and want to quit smoking and tobacco use, you can opt for e-cigarettes.

Temperature Control: Most vaporizers come with settings that allow you to adjust the heat. Therefore, you can control the temperature of your device throughout the vaping session. This is optimal because it will enable you to adjust the taste and level of vapor. Also, it might take some trial and error to discover what temperature works for you because different temperatures produce varying effects from mild to intense.

Efficient: E-cigarette use allows you to slowly and effectively extract the components of your dry herb, oil extract, and wax. Furthermore, you get more than one use from each purchase. Also, you can use already vaped buds to make edibles and tea, or if you are low on supply, smoke or re-vape. However, you do not get any reusable leftovers when you smoke marijuana. All you are left with is ash that has no value whatsoever.

Discreet: One of the main reasons why people opt for e-cigarettes is their discreteness. Vaping marijuana does not produce as much odor as smoking, especially when you use the vaping device at lower temperatures. Additionally, the smell of vaping barely has any resemblance to smoke. Hence, you can use e-cigarettes, and most people would not know. You might even end up smelling like strawberries or apples.

Drawbacks Of Vaping

One major drawback of e-cigarette use is that the device takes some getting used to. Unlike smoking, this method is not as straightforward as rolling and lighting a joint. Here are some other drawbacks of vaping:

Generally Requires a Grinder: Most vaping products do not work efficiently without a medium or fine grind of marijuana. Thus, you might need to invest in a decent grinder. You especially need a grinder if your device runs on conduction heating, which most vape pens do. 

That said, it is in your best interest to grind your marijuana smoothly because it increases the surface area. This increased surface area allows all terpenes and cannabinoids in your plant to be extracted properly and optimally.

You Need to Charge or Have It Plugged In: Indeed, you won’t need a lighter, but you need to heat your weed somehow. With vaping, this heating comes from a battery or external power source. This means you need to charge your device now and then or have it plugged into a wall socket. On the flip side, if your vape is fully charged, you can use the device several times before you need to recharge.

Requires Maintenance: When smoking, you do not need to worry about maintaining any equipment. All you need are rolling paper, marijuana, a lighter, and maybe filter paper. However, vaping requires a device that you need to maintain constantly. This means cleaning it properly frequently. If you do not do so, your device will not work as well as it should. We suggest cleaning your vape after a few sessions.

Expensive: While subsequent purchases of marijuana or cartridges are relatively affordable, you need to spend a pretty penny purchasing vaping products. You can find a few affordable options that work great but cost $100 and above. Fortunately, vaping saves you a lot of money in the long run because it is more efficient than smoking.

Benefits Of Smoking

The primary benefit of smoking is its overall intenseness compared to smoking. Here are some other benefits of smoking: 

No Initial Investment: Unlike vaping, you do not need to make a substantial initial investment before you can start using marijuana. Well, that is except if you want to buy an expensive bong or glass piece. Therefore, smoking is generally cheaper because you only require rolling papers and a lighter. The price of e-cigarettes is what deters many people from switching over.

No Experience Needed: Smoking is simple and requires little to no experience. You only need to learn how to roll a joint, which you can do in no time. Alternatively, you can opt for pre-rolls. After rolling, all you need to do is light the joint. Using a bong is much easier because you simply place the marijuana on the tool, burn it, and inhale. Furthermore, you know when your session is about to end when smoking. Vaping does not offer that option.

Little to No Maintenance: If you are a joint smoker, there is nothing you need to maintain. Also, pipes and bowls do not require much effort to maintain a vaporizer.

Drawbacks Of Smoking

Compared to vaping, the main drawback of smoking is the health risks. While you are inhaling fewer toxic chemicals than found in conventional cigarettes, you are still inhaling smoke, which can be deadly to the lungs. Here are some other downfalls of smoking weed:

Combustion-Associated Risks: Regardless of its content, smoking is still smoking, and you will end up inhaling some smoke. Many people believe smoking tobacco is harmful to you, but smoking weed isn’t. However, both produce tar, carcinogens, and other end products like benzene and toluene. You cannot avoid this if you choose to smoke. Furthermore, there are also dangers to using an open flame and secondhand smoke.

Less Control: When it comes to smoking, you do not get to choose how effective your joint is. You can take steps like buying less potent strains, taking smaller puffs, or rolling tighter joints, but that’s about it. On the other hand, vaping allows you to adjust the settings, giving you more control over your experience.

Potent Odor: This is one of the most significant drawbacks of smoking weed. This is because people can smell weed and cigarette vapor from far away, which lingers on you longer than e-cigarette vapor. You can always ensure you smoke in open areas and shower after each session, but this is quite stressful for most.

Lower Efficiency: Since you cannot control the speed at which the joint burns or the overall heat, your stash finishes quicker than someone who uses vape products. With a joint or bowl, once you smoke your marijuana, it is gone. However, a vape slowly cooks the herb, oil, or wax, which gives you enough time to savor all the flavors and effects of the weed.

No Individual Flavor: Besides the overall feeling of a strain, it is hard to discern what strain you use when smoking. It might be possible if you have been a smoker for a long time, but not everyone has the knack for it. Vaping offers everyone, even novices, the opportunity to taste the distinct flavor of each strain because of how slow it burns as opposed to the extreme temperature of smoking.

Alternative To Vaping And Smoking Marijuana

Vaping and smoking are not the only way to go, especially when you are worried about their known harmful effects. So, we understand if you are looking for an alternative, and luckily, there is. You can always choose to ingest the weed.


Some people opt for edible marijuana products, also known simply as edibles. You can either have them as food or beverages. Some of these include:

  • Gummies
  • Brownies
  • Cookies
  • Candies
  • Teas

About Edibles

Eating edibles is just as effective as smoked and vaporized cannabis. However, there are some things you need to know about this method before making a decision.

Effects Take Longer To Kick In

Ingesting marijuana takes longer to take effect than smoking or vaping. This is because your body needs time to metabolize the weed and enter your bloodstream. With that said, taking too much can lead to both mental and physical adverse effects such as:

  • High heart rates and blood pressure
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia

However, when you eat edibles in moderation, you should not have any adverse health effects.

You Need To Heat Marijuana

If you choose to eat marijuana “raw,” you won’t feel the same effects as ingesting edibles. This is because you need to heat marijuana to release its chemical compounds. Fortunately, something as simple as cooking can do that.

Take It Slow

As mentioned, edibles do not have an immediate effect. It can take up to two hours before you feel its impact and can take three before they peak. With that said, you should be able to feel its effects for about six to eight hours. This period depends on how quickly your body metabolizes the weed. Therefore, it is best to start slow.

If you are a beginner, you should take a small amount and see where it gets you after about two hours. A typical dose for edibles is 10 mg of THC. However, beginners can start with 2 to 5 mg of THC.

Opt For CBD

If you want to enjoy the benefits of marijuana without the high, you can look for cannabidiol (CBD) products. Some of these products include gummies, topicals, and e-cigarettes. Keep in mind that the CDC does not recommend vaping, including CBD oil. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate these products, so ensure to buy one from reputable brands.

Tips When Using Edibles 

  • Ensure to ingest edibles along with other food items. 
  • Do not mix edibles with other substances such as alcohol because this can increase its intensity.
  • Do not drive or use machinery when you have taken edibles because it affects your behavior and judgment.
  • Keep your edibles away from pets, children, and people who should not eat them.
  • If you have taken some edibles and feel nothing, wait for two hours before taking more.

Conclusion: Vaping Or Smoking, Which One Is Better? 

While there is still a lot to learn about the effects of marijuana, smoking is generally not good for your overall health. Also, e-cigarette use is not safe either. Research suggests that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking but can be harmful and possibly lethal. Hence, it might be safer to simply ingest marijuana. 

Ultimately, using marijuana and THC for a long time can lead to mental health disorders. So, if you want to enjoy the health benefits of weed and reduce some of these risks, it might be worthwhile to consider CBD products.


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