Here’s What The Harvard Popcorn Lung Study “Forgot” To Mention

The recent study on electronic cigarette flavorings by Harvard University has taken over social media. The Harvard article alone has over 250,000 shares on Facebook alone, that doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of shares that were accumulated between different news sources that covered this article. If one in every ten users shared that article, that means over 3.5 million plus people (more than likely much higher) have seen the released study. At one point this afternoon, the Harvard study was the number one trending news article on Facebook. This is not the kind of attention that electronic cigarettes need at a critical time when the FDA’s deeming regulations are currently up for review by OMB.

The Harvard study claims that almost all electronic cigarette companies are selling e-juice containing diacetyl, acetyl propionyl, and acetoin. Harvard’s study tested 51 unique e-liquids, though the e-liquids that were tested have not been disclosed. Of the 51 e-liquids tested, one or more of the three noted chemicals were found in 92 percent of the tested liquids.

While that information may be alarming, this article is not going to talk about the health effects of diacetly, acetyl propionyl, or acetoin. This article is is intended to address the misleading headlines that Harvard has been using in the distribution of this study.


Harvard titled their recent post “Harvard Study Finds That E-Cigarette Flavors Cause Lung Disease”. This title is extremely misleading, and a large number of smokers will see this type of post and immediately dismiss electronic cigarettes. If you do not have prior knowledge of electronic cigarettes, this type of post would surely push you away from making the switch.

Combustible Cigarettes Contain Diacetly, Acetyl Propionyl, and Acetoin

Another key point that the Harvard Study fails to mention is the fact that combustible cigarettes also contain these three chemicals. Dr. Farsalinos, a well respected doctor and active e-cigarette researcher, stated that “tobacco cigarette smoke contains high levels of diacetyl and acetyl propionyl, on average 100 and 10 times higher,” compared to your standard electronic cigarette. The exclusion of this data from Harvard’s study proposes that electronic cigarettes pose a greater risk than combustible tobacco cigarettes, which according to studies is not the least bit true.

Dr. Farsalinos conducted a study on these chemicals in both electronic cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes in 2014 and that study was published in the Nicotine and Tobacco Journal.

Tobacco Cigarettes, On Average, Contain 100 and 10 Times Higher Levels Of These Three Chemicals

So now that it is known that tobacco cigarettes contain much higher levels of these three chemicals, what research has been conducted on these three chemicals in tobacco cigarettes? Well, according to Critical Reviews in Toxicology “smoking has  not been shown to be a risk for bronchiolitis (“popcorn lung”). Now that we know cigarettes contain, on average, a 100 and 10 times higher levels of these chemicals, why is Harvard stating that e-liquid flavors cause bonchiolitis, but smoking itself has not been linked to “popcorn lung”?

Please note that we are not defending the use of these three chemicals, we are just bringing awareness to the fact that the Harvard study is trying to cause public panic. Dr. Farsalinos summarizes Harvard’s mission of this study perfectly, stating that Harvard’s article is

“creating false impressions and exaggerates the potential risk from diacetyl and acetyl propionyl exposure through e-cigarettes. They failed to mention that these chemicals are present in tobacco cigarette smoke and violated a classical toxicological principle that the amount determines the toxicity and the risk.”

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let us know your opinion!

31 thoughts on “Here’s What The Harvard Popcorn Lung Study “Forgot” To Mention

  1. Dawna says:

    I am not worried about this at all was a long time smoker of 35yrs 2 packs a day have stopped smoking for 5 months with the help of an e-cigarette.

  2. Larry Steenstry says:

    I question any article or email that uses non-standard verbiage such as “100 and 10 times ” instead of 110 times. It tells me the article or email can’t be trusted to be true.

    • Aspen Valley Vapes says:


      Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos is from Greece, so English is not his first language. If you would like to view any of his studies, you can check them out here.

    • Christian says:

      They are referring to two separate chemicals in their respective concentrations. Impressive use of the word verbiage but really, how do you not get that?

    • Aspen Valley Vapes says:


      That’s a fantastic point! No one is claiming that e-cigarettes are 100% risk-free, the most recent data we have is the study by Public Health England that states e-cigarettes are 95% safer than cigarettes.

      Vape on, Robert! 😀

    • Rick says:

      I would love to thank the researchers at for doing their homework! My background is in healthcare RN/Paramedic, and I had smoked off and on for the better part of 35 years. I promised my wife and two daughters to quit smoking on Fathers Day 2012 and haven’t looked back. 8 months after quitting tobacco cigarettes, I had all my blood work performed, and I went from being a type II diabetic on insulin twice daily, meds for cholesterol and extremely high triglycerides? I went from the blood work of a 75 year old dying man to a 25 year old well person. NO more insulin or other meds, just one pill for keeping my sugar in the norm. I would love to see the board rooms at big tobacco companies scheming and bribing well known doctors to write bad study’s? The lies are of omission but still lies, and for that I don’t believe anything or anyone with an, “E-cig study. I have a brilliant Doctor and I go up to her office on a regular basis to re-fill the information and contact address for a couple of smaller stores near by. Thank you again for showing this underhanded way of scaring people that need to quit from trying a healthier alternative vs. pharmaceuticals and over price patches that just don’t sta lit!

  3. Priscilla says:

    I am about to celebrate two years with lighting up a nasty cigarette. My lungs are clear. I don’t hack in the mornings any longer, and I don’t smell like a nasty ashtray. I don’t get out of breath any more either. I owe it all the e cigarettes!

  4. David Bruni says:

    I only smoke cbd oil and now my cancer is gone my 2 new knees don’t bother me any more my arthritis is giving me any problems and I feel great when I vape cbd oil it just about helps everything. So I don’t know if these chemicals are in cbd but I don’t care.

  5. Raymond says:

    I quit a two pack a day habit 3 years ago when I started vaping and haven’t looked back. I can breathe, I can smell and taste things now that, when I was smoking, I didn’t realize I was missing. Vaping saved my life literally because my heart is enlarged because of sleep apnea. My Dr. said quit smoking or you have about 6 month’s to a year left on earth if you don’t. I’m living proof vaping saves lives.

  6. Phil says:

    I’m not worried I smoked 3 and a half packs of Marlboro 100’s for 30+ years and with vapping in my life I’m not cigarette free and have been for over a year now .

  7. tko says:

    i stopped reading and trusting e-cig studies research from harvard long time ago when their research seem to implicate that e-cig is more harmful than analogue cig which i have stopped after 25years of smelling like an ashtray… long live vape!!

  8. Jayce says:

    I smoked and dipped… Three year ago i totally quit both cold turkey thanks to e-cigs and now own a vape shop. E-cigs are not totally clean we all know that but neither is the air we breath in these big cities. I would encourage anybody on any tobacco product to buy one and try it, you might be surprised how easy it is to acutally quit.

  9. Virginia says:

    I started smoking box MOD be I got tire taken 5 different inhalers for my asthma.. It’s been a 1yr an 7 months now since I haven’t touch my inhaler I love my box MOD an people can kiss where zip in the shine I won’t give my box MOD up for nothing

  10. Tom Smith says:

    In my opinion, substituting one poison (cigarettes) for another (e-cigarettes, is not the way to go. As a professional hypnotist, I help people when everything else has failed. I have a 99.9% success rate helping people kick the smoking habit.

  11. Jerad says:

    I find this disturbing. That a highly known college and well respected at that would put out trash like that. Traditional tobacco has uncontrollable amounts of nicotine and way more off ALL 3 of these chemicals Yet they would publish something to scare people who need this life saving tech…. it’s sad. I’ve been smoke free for two years, I feel young again. I can breath, taste and smell better. I have energy and drive to do things instead of be lazy. Vaping has changed my life for the better, as it has for a growing number of people on this planet that have a brain and can weed through the fear mongering junk.

  12. Gabriel Moorhead says:

    they should release what brands they tested!
    i would like to see juice companies to start making MSDS (material safety data sheets) for their juices. that way anyone can pull it up on the net and see what all of the ingredients are.

  13. Josh Weimer says:

    I knew the Harvard study was misleading and meant to confuse people further. Look at a followup article to the Harvard study!

    “We acknowledge that diacetyl shouldn’t be used in e-cigarettes, but equally diacetyl is found in cigarettes at very significant levels, so obviously there is a harm-reduction aspect to switching to e-cigarettes,” said Tom Pruen, chief scientific officer for the U.K.-based Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association.

  14. Lauretta B. Souza says:

    I smoked for over 35 years, up to 3 or 4 packs a day, if it wasn’t for e-cigarettes I would still be smoking, instead of smoke-free for 3 years January 1, 2016. Only had to use the e-cigarettes for 3 months. 🙂

  15. Dewayne says:

    As a former smoker of 53 years, I believe that BIG TOBACCO got into the study group and author of the original report. Too often this sort of lies are ” leaked” and by the time the truth is revealed there has been irreversa le damage done. Stop allowing BIG TOBACCO to lead the masses irresponsibly!!!

  16. Rudy the Dog says:

    Of course you disagree with the Harvard study. You have a financial incentive for it to be wrong. Shame on you. The human lungs weren’t designed to breath ANYTHING but air. End of story.

  17. Kim Reid says:

    I am the oddball that NEVER smoked cigarettes, and I recently started vaping. I’m concerned about the effects of vapor in my lungs because I have asthma. I haven’t found good info on my circumstance. Thoughts?

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