Long-time smokers wanting to quit found hope in e-cigarettes, but the controversy surrounding this smoke cessation device is making a lot of them stall. It seems that the alarm that health organizations are raising, though being refuted by most scientific studies, is doing its share of damage. Can more studies clear the controversy?
Relative Safety Based on Two Studies
If safety is what the authorities are looking for, two studies can do just that.
The first is an earlier research conducted by Goniewicz et al. entitled Levels of selected carcinogens and toxicants in vapour from electronic cigarettes (Tobacco Control, 2013). The researchers found that e-cig vapors do contain some harmful substances. Yet, these exist in levels “9–450 times lower than in cigarette smoke and were, in many cases, comparable with trace amounts found in the reference product.” Based on the findings, the researchers believe that switching to e-cigarettes can be an effective “harm reduction strategy” since it can considerably reduce exposure to certain toxicants found in tobacco.
The second study, Comparison of select analytes in aerosol from e-cigarettes with smoke from conventional cigarettes and with ambient air (Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, December 2014) by Rana Tayyarah and Gerald A. Long, is believed to shed light on the controversy in favor of -cigarettes. The highlights of the study are as follows:
- The e-cigarettes contained and delivered mostly glycerin and/or PG and water.
- Aerosol nicotine content was 85% lower than the cigarette smoke nicotine.
- The levels of HPHCs in aerosol were consistent with the air blanks (<2 μg/puff).
- Mainstream cigarette smoke HPHCs (∼3000 μg/puff) were 1500 times higher than e-cigarette HPHCs.
- No significant contribution of tested HPHC classes was found for the e-cigarettes.
Objectively, the results of this study support and are consistent to “previous researchers’ discussion of e-cigarette products’ potential for reduced exposure compared to cigarette smoke.”
Deciphering the Results
Do these studies imply that vaping is absolutely safe? These studies do not suggest that the use of e-cigarettes is absolutely healthy or that there are no undesirable toxicants in the vapor emitted during vaping.
The first study clearly said that there are toxic substances in the vapors, but they are way below what a vaper could potentially get when smoking tobacco. It is healthier not to smoke or vape, but in cases when the subject is already a smoker, vaping can be less harmful, based on this research.
The second research also purports that tobacco smoke contain more nicotine and HPHC(harmful and potentially harmful constituents) than e-cigarettes, which made the researchers suggest that the latter offers reduced exposure to tobacco smoke toxins.
It has to be noted too that the long-term safety of inhaling propylene glycol or glycerin, the usual component of e-liquids, is still not established. The researchers are, however, confident that those effects are predictably lesser compared to the established impacts of tobacco smoke on lungs.
Is there a need for more evidence?
These researches add to the growing number of studies and proofs that e-cigarettes are indeed significantly and relatively safer than tobacco products. Other studies have also revealed that the usual risks associated with certain e-cigarette brands that overheat and that it is not addictive.
Is there a need for more evidence? Yes, particularly on the long-term effects of vaping and other current gaps on related/relevant areas. Just like any product that has potential impact on health, e-cigarettes deserve attention. Importantly, the results of these and other studies supporting the relative safety of e-cigs compared to tobacco cigarettes must not be used by health authorities to misguide the public or to imply that “conclusive research is not available.”
One fact that fence-sitting smokers must realize is that current scientific evidence strongly prove the relative safety of e-cigarettes. There is no truth in what certain health organizations and politicians say that there are no enough studies to make this claim. Neutral parties looking at facts are more easily convinced about its relative safety compared to tobacco cigarettes.
Despite these scientific investigations, the e-cigarette antagonists will not easily give up being motivated by their ideology and profit. There is too much money at stake here; so be forewarned. If you are fence-sitter, think hard because every stick of tobacco cigarette you puff matters.