No, eCigarettes Are Not Anywhere Near As Harmful As Smoking

  • A recent study shows that eliquid can harm cells – in a petri dish – but that is not like inhaling
  • Propylene glycol – one of the main constituents – tests similarly
  • Yet propylene glycol is used in multiple products with no effect
  • Compared to regular clean air, ecigarettes are NOT as healthy
  • Compared to tobacco smoke, ecigarettes are far safer

Ecigarettes are a totally legitimate way to smoke smoking and have a fraction of the risks.


Via The Guardian

Just under a year ago, I wrote a response to an article by a journalist who claimed there was no evidence that vaping is less harmful than smoking. Since then, many new studies have been published, including a Cochrane review showing their promise for aiding smoking cessation, and a comprehensive review for Public Health England that concluded, as previous reports have done, that e-cigarettes were significantly safer to users than continuing to smoke.

Yet the debate in the media rages on, fuelled in part by misleading press releases from journals and academics. The latest example involves a study published online in the journal Oral Oncology in November, but press released just this week, at a time when many smokers are making new year resolutions to stop smoking. The press release cited the lead author who concluded that ‘based on the evidence to date, I believe that [e-cigarettes] are no better than smoking regular cigarettes’.

So what did the study involve? A team who specialised in studying head and neck cancer conducted a lab study that exposed human epithelial cells (the type that line the mouth and lungs) in Petri dishes to the vapour from two brands of e-cigarettes. The cells were treated with e-cigarette extract every three days for up to eight weeks, with some of the extract containing nicotine and some being nicotine-free.

At the end of the treatment period, the cells were harvested and examined for damage using established methods. The treated cells were more likely to show DNA damage, and some of the cells died. The authors highlight in the press release that DNA strand breaks were observed, damaging the cellular repair process, and that this can ‘set the stage for cancer’. Worse damage was observed in the cells exposed to the e-liquid that contained nicotine, but the nicotine free liquid also altered the cells.

In vitro studies like this are useful for examining how certain substances can affect cell growth and repair, but they can’t show what actually happens to cells in the human body under ‘real world’ conditions. For example, one of the main constituents in electronic cigarette liquid is propylene glycol, which has been shown in In vitro studies to have toxic effects and to damage cells. Yet propylene glycol is widely used in a range of products including those we consume such as cough syrup, asthma inhalers and the ‘fog’ (sometimes called ‘dry ice’) used in theatrical productions.


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