Residential at the Ranch

Extended Care (PHP)

Intensive Outpatient Therapy (IOP)

Sober Living


The Full Continuum

Our Mission

Meet the Team







San Antonio

Willow Bend

Cedar Park

Art Therapy

Accelerated Resolution Trauma Therapy

Boxing & Body Movement

CBT Therapy

DBT Therapy

Family Dynamic Therapy

Family Therapy

Group Therapy

Individual Therapy

Motivational Interviewing

Relapse Prevention Therapy

Spiritual Therapy

Medication Assisted Treatment

6 minutes

What is the Difference Between E-Cigarettes, Vaping, and Smoking? Dangerous Side Effects & Withdrawal Symptoms

Medically Reviewed
Last Medically Reviewed on: July 24, 2022

Written by

Kevin Lang

Updated on

21 Jun, 2022

Introduced to the mass market in the U.S. in 2007, e-cigarettes, in the form of “vaping,” has grown in popularity, especially with people believing that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking tobacco. However, despite these misconceptions being debunked in mainstream society, people are still gravitating toward the trend of using e-cigarettes. This could be because vaping can be just as highly addictive as smoking tobacco.

Although quitting smoking altogether may seem too difficult a task for many, many people have successfully transitioned from smoking to being drug-free. To motivate oneself to make this transition, however, understanding the differences between vaping, e-cigarettes, and smoking are, the side effects as well as the withdrawal symptoms of each, and how to get help for this addiction may be of benefit to the user to maintain long-term sobriety from drugs.

What is the Difference Between E-Cigarettes, Vaping, and Smoking? Are E-Cigarettes and Vaping the Same Thing?

Due to the increased popularity of vaping, many people are starting to question what similarities/differences e-cigarettes, vaping, and smoking has to each other. Becoming educated about these differences can prevent someone from partaking in any method of smoking or may help increase the chances of someone seeking help for a smoking/vaping addiction.

Vaping and E-Cigarettes

Vaping is inhaling and exhaling aerosol produced by an e-cigarette or similar device. An e-cigarette is battery-operated and has a cartridge filled with liquor usually containing nicotine, flavorings, and chemicals. Often nicknamed “cigalikes,” e-cigarettes were created to look and feel like traditional cigarettes. However, unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes use a chargeable or disposable battery. The liquid inside the cartridge in an e-cigarette is heated into a vapor, which in turn is inhaled by the user. The vapor produced by this form of smoking is what gives the act of smoking e-cigarettes the name “vaping.”

Much like e-cigarettes, vaporizers use a rechargeable battery that heats an element in the device that vaporizes the “e-liquid.” The difference between e-cigarettes and vaporizers is that vaporizers use a tank to hold the e-liquid while e-cigarettes use a cartridge. This entails that vaporizers do not have the “look and feel” of a traditional cigarette and tend to run larger than an e-cigarette.


Most people are accustomed to understanding what smoking a cigarette looks like and the health effects produced by smoking. Still, they may not know the difference between smoking and vaping and, most importantly, the similar health implications vaping and smoking have on each other. The primary difference between vaping and smoking a cigarette is that e-cigarettes (vaping) do not produce tobacco smoke but aerosol instead. This can mistakenly make someone believe that avoiding tobacco means finding a “healthier” alternative to smoking. However, despite vaping seems a less-risky choice for people trying to quit smoking, the varying amounts of toxic chemicals one is exposed to when vaping increases one’s overall risk of adverse health side effects. Furthermore, because e-cigarettes contain nicotine, addiction is still a source of concern for the user.

Health Side Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms of Vaping

Although it is unknown just how damaging e-cigarettes can be to the human body, there is enough evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes’ adverse effects can be just as damaging to the body as smoking tobacco. Because e-cigarettes have nicotine in them, low doses of vaping can cause side effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Eye irritation
  • Abdominal pain

High doses of nicotine may include side effects such as:

Additionally, the FDA has reported ethylene glycol in some e-cigarettes and cancer-causing substances in others. Furthermore, some e-cigarettes have caught on fire or have exploded because of faulty or malfunctioning batteries. Finally, because nicotine addiction can have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, one can be kept in the vicious cycle of smoking to avoid these symptoms.

Some common nicotine withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Hunger
  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings (feeling tired, cranky, angry, depressed)
  • Trouble sleeping/insomnia

Withdrawal symptoms are typically the strongest in the first couple of days after quitting and get better over the following days and weeks, depending on the level of addiction severity.

If you notice any of these side effects or symptoms, it is time to seek professional help. At our alcohol and drug detox in Austin, we help individuals addicted to nicotine and vaping break their addiction and find healing.

Health Side Effects of Smoking and Withdrawal Symptoms

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Nearly one in five deaths, or more than 480,000, are attributed to cigarette smoking yearly. As such, smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it’s estimated that smoking increases the risk:

  • Of coronary heart disease by 2 to 4 times
  • For stroke by 2 to 4 times
  • Of men developing lung cancer by 25 times
  • Of women developing lung cancer by 25.7 times

Smoking affects every organ in the body and a person’s overall health, causing cancer almost anywhere in the body, including the:

  • Bladder
  • Blood (acute myeloid leukemia)
  • Cervix
  • Colon and rectum (colorectal)
  • Esophagus
  • Kidney and ureter
  • Larynx
  • Liver
  • Oropharynx (throat, tongue, soft palate, tonsils)
  • Pancreas
  • Stomach
  • Trachea, bronchus, and lung

Additionally, smoking can make it harder for a woman to get pregnant and, if pregnant, can affect her baby’s health before and after giving birth. This could equate to low birth weight for the baby, preterm (early) delivery, stillbirth (death of the baby before being born), sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), ectopic pregnancy, or orofacial clefts in infants.

Furthermore, smoking can:

  • Affect bone health
  • Affect the health of teeth and gums and can cause tooth loss
  • Increase the risk for cataracts (clouding of the eye’s lens, making it hard to see)
  • Increase the chances of getting Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Cause inflammation in the body and decrease immune function
  • Increase the chances of getting rheumatoid arthritis

Sadly enough, this is just a minuscule list compared to all the adverse health side-effects that smoking can have on the body. When it comes to withdrawing nicotine from smoking, one can experience withdrawal symptoms as early as 30 minutes after their last cigarette, depending on the severity of the addiction.

Symptoms of withdrawal from smoking may include:

  • Intense nicotine cravings
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Headaches
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Constipation and gas
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Weight gain
  • Depression

Withdrawal symptoms when detoxing off tobacco are quite similar to smoking. Withdrawal symptoms usually peak within two to three days after detoxing off nicotine and usually subside/disappear after two to four weeks.

How to Quit Vaping or Smoking

Because vaping and smoking are highly addictive since they both contain nicotine, it is imperative that one quit smoking/vaping as soon as possible to avoid any potential life-threatening health complications from occurring. While one can quit on their own, to have the best chance of long-term sobriety from drugs, it’s ideal to seek the help of a medical professional or go to an inpatient/intensive outpatient drug rehab program that can provide guidance on best practices to avoid smoking, particularly at the early stages of detox when cravings are the strongest.

Take control of your health. Make a plan and stick to it. Your future health and well-being depend on the action you take today.

If you or a loved one are seeking drug treatment in Austin, contact our admissions team today. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about our programs and services.


Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. Gordon LP. Vaping: What You Need to Know (for Teens) – Nemours KidsHealth. Published September 2019. Accessed June 24, 2022.
  2. Davis CP. Vaping (e-Cigarette, Marijuana): Side Effects, Risks & Lung Conditions. MedicineNet. Published June 24, 2022. Accessed June 24, 2022.
  3. Sachdev P. Flutter, thump, bump: facts about tachycardia. WebMD. Published April 28, 2022. Accessed June 24, 2022.
  4. American Chemistry Council. Ethylene Glycols. American Chemistry Council. Published June 24, 2022. Accessed June 24, 2022.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published November 2, 2021. Accessed June 24, 2022.
  6. Mayo Clinic. Ectopic pregnancy – Symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic. Published June 24, 2022. Accessed June 24, 2022.
  7. Falck S. Nicotine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Treatments, and Complications. Healthline. Published March 23, 2018. Accessed June 24, 2022.

Recovery is possible! Take the first step towards a new life today.

If you or a loved one are struggling with drugs, alcohol or a dual diagnosis mental condition we are here to help. Our caring and compassionate admissions team is here for you, call today!
Contact Us
Call Now ButtonCall Now