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Vapour vs Smoke: What's the Difference?


While the two may look alike, there are some pretty crucial differences between smoke and vapour.

For some, the distinction may be obvious, but it is important to discuss the differences between the two due to misconceptions about the safety of vapour.

Many people consider cigarette smoke and e-cigarette liquid vapour to be the same thing and hold concerns that the vapour clouds produced will result in second-hand smoking.

Here we explore the truth behind what smoke and vapour are.


What is Smoke?

Smoke is created when something is set on fire – it is a collection of airborne, solid, liquid and gas particles that are mixed with the air.

The smoke is visible due to the molecules of carbon and the substance that is being burned that are present within the smoke.

Smoke from a cigarette will contain molecules of the substances found within the cigarette – many of which are harmful.

A cigarette contains around 7,000 chemicals - with at least 70 of these being carcinogenic – including cyanide and ammonia. Cigarette smoke also contains carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, which are poisonous gases.

What is Vapour?

Vapour is not produced by something burning; instead, it is a liquid being heated and producing a cloud similar to that created when boiling a pot of water.

E-Liquid is heated by the atomiser coil and turned into an inhalable vapour. When you inhale the vapour, your body absorbs the nicotine and flavour within it, and the remaining vapour is exhaled.

What is the Difference Between Smoke and Vapour?

Aside from the visible cloud that is produced upon exhalation, there is not much similarity between the two.



While cigarette smoke contains carcinogenic chemicals, vapour is not believed to, as E-Liquid only comprises of vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, nicotine and food-grade flavouring. In fact, other than nicotine, all of the ingredients that go into an E-Liquid are labelled as safe to ingest by the CDC. Nicotine is the only common ingredient in both cigarettes and E-Liquids.

Another big safety risk from cigarette smoke is second-hand smoke. This is when smoke from a cigarette is passively smoked by a non-smoker and long-term exposure (such as living with a smoker), can cause a 30% increased risk of health conditions such as heart disease, lung cancer and stroke.

While research is still being done into the effects of second-hand vapour, current research concludes that there is ‘no apparent risk to human health from e-cigarette emissions based on the compounds analyzed’.


Another difference between the two is the smell. Cigarette smoke can linger for a long time and can cause a stale smell to stick around on clothing and furniture.

While vapour clouds can be visible for longer than exhaled smoke, the smell tends to dissipate faster, and is generally more pleasant given all of the E-Liquid flavour options!


Leaving a Residue

The effects of smoke can be seen long after a cigarette has been extinguished, and this doesn’t just affect the body! Cigarette smoke contains tar and carbon monoxide, and this can cause yellow staining on fabric, furniture and walls that the smoke settles on.

E-Liquid vapour will not have this effect – you won’t see things getting stained or aged by smoke. The worst it will do is add a slight coating to glass surfaces, but this can very easily be wiped away.

As you can see, there are many benefits to choosing to vapour over smoke, so if you’d like to try switching from cigarettes to vape, then check out the range of vape products we have available here at RED Box Vape today!

If you don’t know where to start, then our guide to vape devices is the perfect place to begin!


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