Smoking vs vaping behind the wheel: What is safer and why?

With more than 1.3 million people worldwide dying in car accidents every year, the issue of distracted driving is becoming more and more pressing every day. Statistically, 13,000 crashes are specifically related to lighting a cigarette and driving at the same time. And though it might be impossible to eliminate the problem, there are ways to reduce that chilling number.

Effects of smoking and vaping on the body

It is known that smoking comes hand in hand with various respiratory diseases, cancer being one of them. However, the majority of people are unaware of the fact that nicotine is not the greatest evil in ordinary cigarettes and contributes only to a small portion of possible symptoms. The most damage is done by tar, carbon monoxide, benzene, ammonia and other chemicals that people ingest with the smoke. The common effects include increased chances of clot formation, increased risk of having a stroke, premature aging of your skin, weakening of bones, lung, kidney and oropharyngeal (in part of the throat) cancers.


Vaporizers heat up special liquids contained in tanks or cartridges to produce a vapor that you can inhale. Unlike cigarettes, they don’t emit the toxic tar-rich smoke and can be nicotine-free. Vaping is less harmful to your health, safe for bystanders and offer limitless possibilities for customization due to a vast variety of liquids and flavors. It also has considerable potential for helping smokers break the habit by administering controlled doses of nicotine and reducing the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, similar to nicotine skin patches.

Vapes, however, can be used not only for nicotine but to vaporize cannabis-infused oils instead of e-liquids. Devices like a CBD pen vaporize cannabidiol oil and are specifically designed for vaping marijuana. So is smoking weed actually more dangerous than vaping it? Medical experts suggest that low-temperature vaporization is safer than smoking and causes less damage and irritation to the respiratory system since most of the harmful chemicals that smokers ingest are contained in marijuana smoke and aren’t present in the vapor. At the same time, the best CBD vape pen (Vapingdaily gives the full info) would usually cost more than a standard vaporizer, and it might be hard to obtain the oils for it, since marijuana is completely legal in some states and absolutely illegal in others.

Is it safer to vape or smoke while driving?

Both smoking and vaping are distracting activities that divert your attention from the road and hence increase the risk of getting in an accident. On the other hand, it would be unreasonable to abruptly quit smoking for the duration of your ride, since even short-term nicotine withdrawal results in high irritability, tingling in hands and feet, headaches and fatigue, none of which is desirable for a driver. If smoking is unavoidable for you, it might make sense to look into safer alternatives before you get behind the wheel.

When it comes to vehicles, vapes have one major advantage over regular cigarettes. They run on batteries and produce vapor due to internal heating, unlike cigarettes that require open fire to get lit. It doesn’t make vapes completely safe to use, however, dropping a properly functioning electronic device in a moving car could cause much less damage and panic than a hot burning cigarette.

In addition, vapes don’t require ashtrays, and there is no need to throw them out once you’re done vaping. If your car is not equipped with a built-in ashtray, and the trend to include it in every car is long gone, you have to figure out how to secure one within arm’s reach and prevent it from falling. You also need a container for the cigarette butts, since tossing them out of the window is a rather poor idea. Vapes effectively solve these problems.

Finally, traveling with passengers and smoking often don’t go well together. Vapes or e-cigarettes could be a solution for the drivers who are frequently accompanied by non-smokers since the vapor is harmless for bystanders.

The chemical side

Even though nicotine is highly addictive, its effects on consciousness are mild comparing to marijuana. Smoking or vaping nicotine-based substances may even improve your reaction time and concentration; however, high doses of marijuana induce highs and the feeling of relaxation. This way, having a CBD oil vape pen at home and using it for medical purposes might be beneficial, while having it in your car can potentially cost your life.

Tips for vaping while driving

While these guidelines can help reduce certain risks, they are dictated by common sense and don’t cover all possible incidents. You should always remember that vaping behind the wheel is not absolutely safe and take appropriate precautions.

  • The vapor that you exhale may obscure your view of the road for a significant amount of time. Open the window and blow the clouds directly out instead of letting them gather behind the windshield.
  • Set your vaporizer up behind you get in the car. Only swap batteries, change vape tanks or clean the coils during stops.
  • Make sure the battery is charged and functional, and avoid letting your vape overheat.
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Is it illegal to smoke or vape on the move?

Neither smoking nor vaping are illegal in a moving car unless anyone inside is age 18 years or younger. The age varies for different countries, though the bottom line is that you can’t smoke or vape anything with children present in your vehicle.

Also, keep in mind that you might still commit an offense if the police decide that you are distracted by smoking and don’t have full control over your car. It applies to many acts like eating, drinking non-alcoholic beverages, changing a CD, etc. It might be classified as careless driving, and punishments for it include penalty points, fines or even losing your license altogether.

In addition, it is illegal to smoke or vape marijuana behind the wheel. It falls under the classification of driving under the influence and results in administrative and criminal sanctions, meaning that you should probably leave your CBD pen at home.

Final thoughts

Almost 80% of all car crashes result from various distractions, and 1% of them is specifically attributed to smoking. Vaping can reduce the risk of getting into an accident by requiring less maintenance and allowing the driver to focus on the road. Of course, it doesn’t apply to either smoking or vaping drugs like marijuana. Despite its advantages when used as medication, marijuana slows your reaction, makes you relax and pay less attention to driving.

Talking about ordinary devices and e-liquids, though, vaping is also safe for the passengers and poses fewer fire hazards than conventional cigarettes. While vaping is in no way a cure-all, in combination with caution and common sense, it might be a safer alternative to smoking behind the wheel.

About the Author

About the author: Christina Matthews, the journalist who studies the latest news in the health industry. Now she studies the effects of smoking and vaping on health and reasons of such its popularity.

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