Smoking vs Vaporizing: Consumer Survey Report

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Nima Picture

by: Nima Noori

Founder and CEO of TVape
October 21st,2016

We reached out to 5000 vaporizer users to participate in an anonymous survey and received at the time of writing approximately 700 responses to determine the consumer perception of vaporizing vs smoking. There are several studies, like one conducted in 2007 by the Harm Reduction Journal, that try to determine the overall health impact of both consumption methods, but our main interest with this survey is to gain an insight into how vaporizer users and their friends and family perceive the two different consumption methods. Our hypothesis is that people generally perceive vaporizing as a less impactful consumption method opposed to smoking, are happier that they have made the switch and that people would like to see the health insurance companies and laws to treat the two methods differently. Customers were given Likert Scale statements in which we asked them to rate each statement on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being strongly disagree and 10 being strongly agree. For the purpose of keeping the data simple we determined rankings 1 – 4 would be considered disagree, 5 – 6 is neutral and 7 – 10 is agree. The results can be found below:

Is vaporizing smoking?

graph2When consumers are asked if they consider using their vaporizer as smoking 67% percent disagreed with this statement and only 19% agreed. The general perception appears to be that people who use vaporizers fundamentally feel that there is a difference between the two intake methods and do not consider them one in the same.

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When given the statement in a more straight forward matter, declaring smoking and vaporizing different methods of consumption 92% of surveyers believe that these two methods are inherently different. It is interesting that there is such a large difference between this reply and the former. Perhaps it is just a case of wording and that some of those who use vaporizers still refer to the exhaled vapor as smoke and thus feel that vaporizing and smoking are similar in concept.

Perceptions about health and wellness.

The Canadian Journal of Respiratory Therapy produced a study that suggests vaporizing is less impactful to the respiratory system. Another study by the International Journal of Drug policy experienced similar results in their trial. We wanted to see if our customers feel similarly when making the switch and if they are generally happier with their decision.

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86% of those surveyed said that they felt generally better after vaporizing as opposed to smoking and 92% of those surveyed said that they felt the switch has benefitted their health overall.graph5

From these 2 results we can gather that those who have switched to vaporizing seem to feel generally better after this form of consumption and believe it has benefitted their health as oppose to smoking. This perception seems to be in line with most studies that share a similar conclusion, including a similar survey produced by the Substance Abuse Journal in 2013.

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We also asked users if they were happy with their decision to switch from smoking to vaporizing. 85% of respondents were happy that they made the switch while only 1% replied that they were not happy. Overall users who switch seem to be content with their achievement and its perceived impact on their life.

What about vaporizing indoors?

This topic has drawn the ire of politicians and the public alike. In an article by the Globe and Mail, Allison Jones writes about Ontario’s recent ban of vaporizing indoors and how public perception has driven this decision.  Even though people who use vaporizers believe the consumption methods are different the general public still largely perceives smoking and vaporizing as one in the same. This forces politicians to make sweeping generalizations when passing laws to pacify fears of the public. Most of these fears are centralized around exposure to second hand vapor and its effects, if any at all.

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59% of people who replied stated that friends and family allow them to vaporize indoors as compared to smoking. This result suggests that people who are close to those who have made the switch understand the difference in methods of consumption and generally feel safer allowing their loved ones to vaporize indoors than smoking.

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When asked about whether their family members believed in the effects of second hand vapor, 52% replied that their friends and family did not believe in it, while 29% were on the fence and only 19% perceived that the effects of second hand vapor are real. When it comes to vaporizing the general perception from family members who have experience with those who vaporize is that they have experienced no effects of second hand vapor.

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We then asked about the impact of vaporizing on the indoor environment, 80% believed there is no lingering effects of vaporizing indoors as opposed to smoking. Only 10% perceived any lingering effects of vaporizing indoors which leads us to draw the conclusion that in general consumers feel there is little to no lasting impact on the indoor environment when vaporizing. Keep in mind these are individuals that vaporize on a regular basis and arguably well experienced in assessing effects of vaporizing indoors as compared to the general public. A study conducted by airfilters.com came to a similar conclusion when comparing vaporizers to other methods of smoking and the impact of odor on the indoor environment.

Despite the perception of the general public, vaporizer users and their friends and family commonly recognize vaporizing indoors as less impactful on the people around them and their environment and is viewed as more acceptable than smoking.

Need for Policy Reform?

In light of the above results, people who have experience with vaporizers believe that not only are smoking and vaporizing fundamentally different but also perceive that the overall effects on their living situation and others is negligible. If they truly feel this is the case we posed to vaporizer users whether or not certain policies should be addressed to be more accepting of vaporizer users.

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When probed about whether or not health insurance companies should view those who only vaporize different in their policy vs those who smoke, 78% believed they should be treated differently than smokers. Only 11% believed that smokers and vapers should be treated one and the same when it comes to health insurance with another 11% remaining neutral. The general perception from users is that they are not smokers and have taken steps to improve their quality of life which should be reflected on their insurance. We have internal reports from the sales department that customers have forwarded their invoices to places like ODSP, WSIB, Veterans Affairs and Private Insurance Companies for coverage. Please note that these are verbal reports from customers during a sales call.

Isabel Teotonio of the Toronto Star wrote an article about a patient who had his medicine and vaporizer covered by their private insurance company. We should note that this is not a standard practice and is handled on a case by case basis, the article highlights that both SunLife and Manulife “consider requests for exceptions if directed by the organization or employer responsible for the benefit plan”.

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When we proposed a similar statement but addressing how the law should treat vaporizing vs smoking, 69% believed that the law should treat vaporizing differently than smoking. As we previously touched upon, the general public perception feels the opposite and therefore the law makers currently have lumped the two together. Unfortunately without awareness and education of the public it is difficult to shift public perception. In the vaporizing community it is strongly felt that the two methods are different and should be treated as such. Hopefully with some time and education public perception will shift to meet the current beliefs held by vaporizer users and their friends.

What is interesting when comparing results between health insurance reform and law reform is that almost 10% less respondents felt laws should accommodate vapers vs health insurance. One would think that there would be a closer relation between these two answers, but perhaps people see the stricter regulation by the government as a necessity to maintain the status quo and out of general respect for non-users. Whatever the reason it is a difference worth noting as people’s perceptions tend to differ between what the Law should dictate and what Health Insurance should cover.

Final Thoughts

From our survey we can determine that vaporizer users believe that vaporizing and smoking are profoundly different methods of consumption. When compared to smoking vaporizer users generally feel better after vaporizing, feel that it has benefited their health in the long run and are happy with their achievement in making the switch. Friends and family of vaporizer users seem to perceive vaporizing indoors as more acceptable than smoking and users believe there is very little impact on the living environment. Friends and family of vaporizer users also believed the effects of 2nd hand vapor to be virtually non-existent and no cause for alarm like the general public perceives. With all of this in mind vaporizer users feel that both the law and health insurance providers should treat those who vaporizer differently from those who smoke. The main limitation to this study is that our data comes straight from vaporizer consumers, however our aim was to survey the opinion of people with experience with vaporizers to form a consensus of their perception towards their usage. With the line of questioning we did not feel comfortable approaching non-vaporizer users who had no first hand experience with these devices.

As vaporizer culture pushes its way into the mainstream we can expect to see changing opinions and perceptions towards the use of these devices. We hope that this study and future studies help inform the general public and shed light on certain perceptions and perhaps misunderstanding towards vaporizers and their users. If you currently use a vaporizer or if you have never used one in your life, we would love for you to weigh in and share your thoughts on this topic.

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49 Comments

  1. I’m glad these studies are being done and more importantly your bringing them to the attention of your customers in a way that’s easily absorbed. I would be curious if a study was done that grouped users via the following:
    Pro Smokers – Main use Tobacco
    ” – ” Herbal

    Pro-Vape – Main Use Tobacco
    ” – ” Herbal

    I mention this because Vapers replacing cigarettes tend to lean towards the pens and oils and what they desire may be far different from those who vape herbs.

    On the other side of the fence you may find that users reasons for not vaping are quite different depending on what they are using (Herb vs Tobacco)

    That’s just my two cents and could be completely wrong, anyways keep the surveys/contests bumpin’

  2. I highly considers vaporizing and smoking as a different consumption method. I believe switching to vaporizer should be motivated by government. Thanks!

  3. The results of the legal treatment of vaporizing surprised me. The substance doesn’t change when consumption method is changed. Hopefully it won’t matter soon!! Go Canada! Go TVape!!!!! :)

  4. Your survey should have had a question to screen for the substance being smoked vs vaped. Medical users might have strong feelings against anyone coming over and vaping tobacco in their home.

  5. I am an old hippy at heart and have smoked a lot . However in order to keep my health up and be able to keep on enjoying the benefits and pleasures of dry herbs, I have switched to vaping . I own several vapes of different types . For me it is the best way to go and have turned most of my friends on to it also .

  6. I am not surprised by the results , there needs to be more unbiased testing to separate both methods, in my book you are still taking a foreign substance and wether vapor is the same or better than smoke as yet to be confirmed with harcore data, I for one see the difference in both methods and would reluctantly consume the old way of rolling and lighting up.

  7. Although the results are somewhat biased, I do believe they provide pretty accurate descriptions of the overall thoughts on vaping vs smoking.

  8. I was surprised to find that any people find vaporizing and smoking the same thing.. These perceptions need to change for the general benefit of society.

  9. Sophia Milonas on

    What I find most interesting is the study with regards to the law. 69% felt that the law should treat vaporizing and smoking differently, which is obviously a lot, but knowing everyone partaking in this survey are vaporizer users, it is surprisingly low. It would be interesting to have a further understanding of the vaporizer users who do NOT think the law should treat them differently and why.

  10. Pablo Alejandro Lopez on

    I personally think studies are right about the huge difference users experience between smoking and vaporazing, the effect from vaporizing are much more medical and sutil than smoking it. I agree that goverment should promote alternatives for patientes.

  11. vaping for me was a life changing event.
    my throat feels so much better now
    i can taste food better now
    it cuts my spending on plants in half every month
    i can vape indoors without any complaints from family
    and my overall health has gotten better, especially my lungs aren’t as stressed out!

    also i want to say torontovaporizer.ca has the best products and best prices!
    i’ve been browsing on the web for a long time before i decided to buy my first vape here.

    i now own 2 desktop vapes and 1 portable vape and i’ve only started vaping 2 months ago. i calculated the math. i didn’t even spend anything extra then i would normally because i saved so much on buying plants!

    i recommend vaping to anyone who smokes.
    it changed my life for the much better. and it will change yours too!

  12. My experiences are consistent with the results of the majority parties from the survey. Thanks for sharing. I am hopeful that this will inspire friends who use cannabis medicinally to consider/appreciate the benefits of vaporizing. I love my Plenty from Toronto Vaporizer. It is easily the best I’ve had. The cooling coil is genius. I am excited to try the Zeus Iceborn with my Arizer V-Tower.

  13. The use of a herbal vaporizer compared to an e-cig vaporizer is completely different. People’s perception of both will always vary depending on their culture, lifestyle, etc.

    I personally think e-cig vapes are definitely not the same as traditional cigarettes and should not be considered smoking.

  14. I’ve tried many different methods of cannabis and I feel that vaporizing is the one that was most beneficial to myself. Not only do I avoid the feeling of a clouded mind but I can now benefit from the cannabanoids fully. Nothing against smokers but I also agree that the government should be promoting these portable vaporizers as they are really the future of smoking.

  15. Vaping is no doubt better for your health. The study is significant in educating people to the health benefits of vaping with a qualitative analysis. Kudos to T.O Vaporizer as a distributor with a conscience.

  16. I’ve been smoking for over 20 years.
    Glad I made the switch to vaping & purchased a Crafty vaporizor. It has such a clean pull. It’s convenient, easy to use, no more I’m stinking like smoke, don’t need to go outside anymore :) Well worth the investment for your health & convenience.

  17. Vaping and smoking are completely different. As an athlete I feel a huge difference in my training and when I vape vs smoke.

  18. Vapor is the way to go. They give this to patience in hospitals when they are going for major heart surgery so their chances are greater for recovery. I agree with this and im sure the system has been doing this for a while now, just hasnt been brought to light.. Great job guys

  19. Vapor is just healthier and lessen the chances of health issues. My only issues are that it can rot your teeth as it’s almost sugar alchohol, but the best thing is 0 hackers cough and more of a clean choking.

  20. Cigarette Smoking and grass shouldn’t be lumped together; when used as medicine no matter how inhaled vaped or as a joint. When vaped it isn’t as impactful on the surroundings but just because you can’t smell it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. But I don’t think the herb is as dangerous to ones body as to equate it to all the dangerous ingredients in a cigarette. Preventing spasms, removing pain, helping sleep….it’s amazing. No bad trade-offs. Our expenses should be tax deductable, even if those with drug coverage, doesn’t cover this drug. Vaporizers should be covered for those who use it as a medicine. Sorry Cigarette smokers should pay more, they are the ones who burn down houses, not grass users. It would make headlines. Never happened, Ever…

  21. It’s interesting to see the indoors/around others pie chart. I won’t vape in my house, or around others, I treat it the same as smoking, but I didnt realise not everyone does! (Hey it’s not like i have friends ok??? Hahaha)

    I hate smoking, so, even vaping sometimes is too much for me, haha…

  22. As a medical cannabis user I am thankful technology is in place so I can medicate using my ascent vs smoking. For me there is no comparison; lungs are much happier after switching a year ago. I also find vaping makes the cbd more bioavailable (this why people say they have a body stone with vaping) Truly it depends on the thc/cbd proportion, another good reason for legal access. It ends up being a good solution for restoring functionality and has given me my life back after a decade of Hell with pain clinic drug cocktails and a near death brush with Fentanyl. That was the last straw and motivated me to make the switch to medical cannabis. Happy to be alive!

  23. I became a vapor for what I perceive rightly or wrong as health reasons. I feel like it is better for my lungs as compared to a one hitter. I’m going to do it anyway so I might as well feel good about it.

  24. The points that are made in this are pretty interesting. If people and organizations could see easily see the differences between the two forms of consumption, it would probably be beneficial in the long run. Currently it seems though that where ever you are there is still a negative stigma surrounding either form when you discuss it with someone who doesn’t partake at all. Vaping definitely seems to be more accepted overall though. Just my opinion though.

  25. Having quit smoking in the 70’s I personally was a little on the outside of the smoking vs vapeing question. One thing that I noticed this week is the report that the big tobacco companies want a part of this market. I guess they see this as a growth area and a place for large potential profits. I use the vape for mainly herbs and find that it has increased my enjoyment level as it is not as harsh and the added benefit of lowered smell. We all do what we do, I’m just glad that I have discovered this.

  26. IMO smoking requires combustion, vaporizing doesn’t. Vaporizing reduces intake of carcinogenic chemicals resulting from combustion, therefore potentially reducing the users exposure to carcinogens allowing them to reap the benefits of the herb without as much harmful by product

  27. Glad I started vaporizing from the start. From what I can see, the main concern here is health. Vaporizing definitely should be marketed to the public for it’s health benefits, or at least better educate the general public of the benefits.

  28. Interesting Study. May benefit from some studies that counter your viewpoint. As the wash of positive articles makes them feel somewhat bias. Although I do realize the bulk of the evidence is in your favor.

  29. There has been a recommendation in the Canadian Medical Association pages, a doctors resource, to encourage the use of vaporizers to patients for well over a decade. It seems like this wasnt based on any study, but just common sense. Great to see more people are interested in gathering hard data on the issue so the benefits of vaping can be quantified. I use an Ascent with the Iceborn and this combo is the best and healthiest way of consuming cannabis I’ve encountered.

  30. Marcus Johansson on

    It’s good these things are being done because people need to know the difference between a vaporizer and cigarette

  31. Vaping Cannabis as a medicine has absolutely nothing to do with those vaping tobacco!

    When we fight to vapourize our Cannabis medicine outdoors in public and indoors in public, we should have that right to medicate and not be confused with those that vaporize tobacco expelling huge clouds of tobacco vapour.

    Those that vape tobacco in public, expelling huge clouds of vapour give people the wrong impression. When I vape, my exhale is never a huge obvious cloud, it is ALWAYS a small almost undetectable bit of vapour – this is why I have been able to do it discretely almost everywhere without any complaints or even being detected. (I have vaped while shopping in malls, at the movies, at concerts, at lectures, at restaurants, at libraries, even in a federal court of law with 3 judges in front of me).

    When people confuse my vaping and its’ results with those that are vaping tobacco and their results, I get discriminated against by those that are not knowledgeable and uneducated! That SUCKS and is all wrong! Governments are starting to create laws around this issue!

    Tobacco vapourers are giving people the wrong idea of those that actually need to medicate! They create a dis-service to the sick and medicating people around us!

    Good luck trying to vape your meds in the future as our rights are disappearing……….

    Sucks to be sick, trying to stay alive more comfortably with my Cannabis.

    Good luck to all in the future……

  32. I definitely believe the law should treat vaping and smoking differently. By treating it the same way as smoking, it is discouraging people from actually taking up vaping. We should be encouraging smokers to move to vaping. I stopped smoking a year ago and switch to vaping and have never felt healthier. More studies need to be done to conclude the long term effects of vaping, but generally, vaping is by far the healthier option of the two. I hope that studies will change the perceptions and opinions of the folks that view smoking the same as vaping.

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