Vaping vs
Smoking.

The difference between smoking and vaping is that smoking delivers nicotine by burning tobacco, which can cause smoking-related illnesses, and vaping can deliver nicotine by heating a liquid in a much less harmful way.

Vaping is less harmful and cheaper than smoking, and can have a similar feel.

Smoking is bad for your health as the toxins produced by burning tobacco cause smoking-related illnesses. The majority of health benefits are seen when you stop smoking completely. Some people find cutting down as a helpful step to quitting, but stopping smoking completely should be the end goal.

Relative harm

Smoking 100%

Smoking less and vaping 85%

Vaping only 6%

Not smoking or vaping 0%

Vaping is not harmless, but it is much less harmful than smoking.

The healthiest option is not to vape or smoke. Don’t vape if you don’t smoke. Only vape to quit smoking.

Fact check

‘There is now general agreement that vaping use exposes the user to fewer toxicants than smoking tobacco cigarettes.’ (McNeill 2015; RCP 2016. Cochrane Review.)

Yep, one cigarette per day is still risky. Read the meta-analysis of 141 studies to understand why. Keen for a breakdown of the graph? View the 2018 Annual Review of Public Health.

Smoking and vaping both deliver nicotine. The difference is cigarettes deliver it by burning tobacco, which creates many harmful toxins. Vaping delivers nicotine in e-liquid, which is a much less harmful way.

Nicotine level

Smoking 100%

Fixed

Vaping 100%

← You decide →

In smoking, the amount of nicotine in cigarettes is generally fixed, and how much you get depends on how you smoke. In vaping, the amount of nicotine depends on the strength of e-liquid you choose, and how you vape.

The healthiest option is not to vape or smoke. Don’t vape if you don’t smoke. Only vape to quit smoking.

Fact check

While nicotine is addictive, it doesn’t cause cancer. Understand nicotine and vaping. ‘Some people get addicted to nicotine after smoking just few cigarettes.’ Read more about nicotine at smokefree.org.nz

Vaping is not smoking, but some people find vaping works to help them quit because it offers experiences similar to smoking a cigarette. Vaping has a similar hand-to-mouth action as smoking, and it can also be social.

Cravings control

Vaping 70%

Patches and gum 45%

Cold-turkey 0%

The best option is not to vape or smoke. Don’t vape if you don’t smoke. Only vape to quit smoking.

Fact check

‘Vaping provides sensations similar to smoking a cigarette. They provide taste and throat sensations that are close to smoking.’ (Cochrane report.)

What can I expect from vaping? Here’s what others have to say.

Aside from the initial $40-$60 approximate setup cost, vaping costs much less than smoking.

Relative cost

Smoking 100%

Smoking less and vaping 85%

Vaping only 10%

Not smoking or vaping 0%

Twenty cigarettes per day can add up to $9,000 a year. Vaping can cost $900 a year. Try the cost calculator to make more comparisons.

The cheapest option is not to vape or smoke. Don’t vape if you don’t smoke. Only vape to quit smoking.

Fact check

‘The lower cost of e-cigarettes, as well as their ability to help respondents quit or reduce smoking, were also common reasons cited for usage.’ (Ministry of Health Evaluation of the Tobacco Excise Increases as a Contributor to Smokefree 2025, final report 2018)

‘Oh, yeah (I vape) hard out for health reasons, but also it is just so expensive to smoke’ (Exploring Why Young Māori Women Smoke, Ministry of Health, 2017)