Junge Frau raucht e-Zigarette


Vaping: not a good alternative to smoking

Last updated on March 19, 2024 First published on March 18, 2024

When vaping, a liquid is heated using an e-cigarette and inhaled as an aerosol. The so-called liquids contain glycerine, propylene glycol, flavorings and, as a rule, nicotine. For Macé Schuurmans, Head Physician at the Clinic for Pneumology at the USZ, the health effects of e-cigarettes should not be underestimated.

Text: Jolanda van de Graaf

Macé Schuurmans, as a lung expert, what do you think about vaping?

People who vape inhale a mixture of flavorings, metals, formaldehyde and other carcinogenic substances in the aerosol. This has an effect on the lungs, heart and blood vessels. In addition, e-cigarettes largely contain nicotine, which leads to addiction. The product is not standardized. There are now around 7000 different liquids and hundreds of e-cigarettes.

Vaping seems to be booming, especially among young people. How do you perceive that?

According to studies, at least a third of young people already have experience with it. Even if they don’t smell of cigarettes at home, young people can still be addicted to nicotine. The liquids smell of chewing gum, berries, cola or lychee, among other things. In addition, the sale of e-cigarettes to young people is still not regulated in Switzerland. The EU is one step ahead.

For me, vaping is a gateway to tobacco consumption, because nicotine addicts often turn to tobacco to cover their nicotine needs.

Should vaping be banned?

For children and young people, yes, of course.

Reports of vaping victims in intensive care units are circulating on social media. What’s the story?

Vaping can undoubtedly lead to health reactions. One of these is bronchial hyperreactivity, a condition similar to asthma in which the bronchial tubes constrict. Coughing and shortness of breath develop. There have been cases in intensive care units with lung failure and several deaths after vaping, particularly in the USA. Inhaling toxins reduces your immune defenses and paves the way for infections.

Why don’t you see vaping as an alternative to smoking?

In my opinion, any doctor who recommends e-cigarettes for quitting smoking is in breach of their duty of care.


Because an e-cigarette is not a standardized medical product, because it promotes nicotine addiction and because it has also been proven to cause harm. There are good alternatives for quitting smoking: repeated counseling and various medications. At the USZ, we have tailor-made offers for people who want to stop smoking in the Pneumology and Cardiology departments.

Responsible specialist

Macé Schuurmans, PD Dr. med.

Senior Attending Physician, Department of Pulmonology

Tel. +41 44 255 39 26
Specialties: Transplant pneumology , Cystic fibrosis , Stop smoking

Responsible Department