Electronic cigarettes are marketed as potentially reduced tobacco exposure products and a safer product compared to conventional cigarettes. The electronic cigarette is designed to look and to function like a conventional cigarette.
However, debates have sparked over the scientific evidence that claims electronic cigarette products have no health related issues.
Conversely, analyses from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have indicated that electronic cigarettes may contain a number of toxins and carcinogens, diethylenel glycol, including tobacco specific nitrosamines and other components that are suspected of being harmful to human beings.
It is imperative for the risks associated with the smoking of electronic cigarettes to be assessed in order to protect public and consumer health especially due to the growing interest and popularity of electronic cigarettes.
One of the biggest claims is that they help as a smoking cessation tool for those that find it hard to quit and is a potentially reduced exposure product.
The European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress Conference is an event held every year, where specialists in the field of respiratory conditions meet to present and tackle issues related to the most recent findings, developments and research on topics like COPD, lung cancer, smoking and asthma.
This year’s conference took place from the 9th to the 13th of September, 2017 in Milan, Italy. Professor Peter Hajek and Dr. Tim Chico who are two public health experts that were present at the conference, shared their views with regards to the following topics;
- The impact active electronic cigarette inhalation has on arterial stiffness.
- Respiratory symptoms which are popular among conventional smokers that also use electronic cigarettes.
- Assessment of respiratory irritants among the most preferred electronic cigarettes refill liquids across 9 European countries.
In line with what has been indicated in a lot of studies, Dr. Tim Chico, a consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield and a reader in cardiovascular medicine, believes that conventional cigarettes are a lot more harmful when compared to electronic cigarettes.
He however believes that electronic cigarettes are not completely risk-free.
Dr. Tim said that electronic cigarettes are certain to have some health effects and advised non-smokers not to start using them erroneously, thinking that they are harmless.
He added that it seemed very unlikely that electronic cigarettes are as harmful as conventional cigarettes, particularly if used as a bridge to quit smoking all cigarettes completely.
He also added that despite the importance in understanding side effects electronic cigarettes have, the fact that smoking conventional cigarettes can lead to reducing life expectancy by ten years and also causes chronic diseases that devastate life quality should not be set aside.
There is No Cause For Alarm in the Levels of Risky Compounds Found in E-Liquids
A director at the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), Professor Peter Hajek expressed himself about the three findings listed above saying they are likely to be presented as generating concerns about vaping, but none provides a cause for alarm.
He thinks that the respiratory symptoms which were highlighted are higher in double users because, most of the double users are heavy smokers who are having a difficult time in trying to quit the smoking of conventional cigarettes, hence they tend to use both products.
According to him, the most likely explanation to the respiratory symptoms is that heavier smokers are most likely to suffer from them and are also most likely to fail when trying to quit smoking, which could lead to having heavy smokers with respiratory symptoms in the dual users group.
Professor Hajek thinks that the amounts of e-liquids that people are exposed to is what matters, and this is in line with what the studies measuring dangerous substances in e-liquids have indicated.
He said that it is the dose that makes the poison and that there has been no information which has been provided on whether these chemicals are being inhaled at levels that can cause harm to the smoker or how these levels compare to the levels smokers are inhaling.
He added that smokers that had switched to vaping have shown a notable improvement for example in asthma, suggesting that a switch reduces respiratory irritation and is beneficial to lung health.
Improved Lung Function Observed in Smokers That Switched to Vaping
On the topic of the impact inhalation of electronic cigarettes has on arterial stiffness, which is caused by the presence of nicotine, Professor Hayek pointed out that there are other things that are considered irrelevant in terms of health risks and have the same effect on the body.
Arterial stiffness is a general term for the elasticity of the arteries. It has little relevance for health and is a well-known stimulant effect of nicotine.
Professor Hayek said that drinking coffee had the same effect that the electronic cigarettes had on arterial stiffness, only greater and longer lasting.
A study carried out through an online survey by Professor Hayek himself and published in the Journal of Addiction and Research Therapy found that there was a substantial decrease of respiratory infections in conventional smokers who had switched to vaping.
It was carried out by making an assessment of 941 subjects that switched from smoking to vaping for a period of at least two months. The findings showed that with regards to respiratory issues the subjects experienced the following;
66% – Claimed that they had noted an improvement.
29% – Claimed that they had experienced no changes at all.
5% – Claimed that they had reported worsening of their condition.
Professor Hayek however pointed out that the findings of his research were based on the self-assessed data by the study subjects and they need to be interpreted with caution.
The overall conclusion that can be drawn from most of the studies that have been conducted in this field is that smoking electronic cigarettes is almost most certainly better for your lungs when compared to the smoking of conventional cigarettes.