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Smoking Alternative E-cigarettes Not Safe Study Says

Tim Boyer's picture

Electronic cigarettes, also known as “e-cigarettes” have been promoted in advertisements as a safe smoking alternative and tool for helping smokers quit smoking. Claims of E-cigarettes being safe are based on the absence of tobacco and its toxins in the design of the electronic cigarettes, but not on rigorous scientific research. In a new study in the medical journal “Chest,” researchers have found disturbing results that indicate that smoking E-cigarettes does not live up to claims of its safety.

An electronic cigarette is a battery operated cigarette-appearing device that allows smokers to inhale vaporized liquid nicotine in place of tobacco-derived smoke and the toxins that accompany the burning of tobacco. E-cigarettes typically consist of FDA approved nicotine, water, propylene glycol, glycerol and added flavorings. Like a nicotine patch, the E-cigarette would curb cravings for nicotine, and without the typical health hazards associated with smoking.

Previous studies from the Boston University School of Public Health have shown that as a smoking cessation device, that E-cigarettes help smokers quit smoking at twice the rate of other more traditional smoking cessation aids.

However, in a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Safety, researchers there in collaboration with other labs have found that while electronic cigarettes may have value as smoking cessation aids, they may not be considered as a safe alternative to smoking regular cigarettes.

In a study of 30 non-smoking participants divided into groups of test subjects and control subjects, E-cigarettes with and without the nicotine cartridges were provided respectively. All participants were directed to puff on their electronic cigarettes for a period of 5 minutes.

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Following the 5-minute smoking period, both the test subjects and the control subjects’ airways were inspected and given a battery of tests analyzing any effects that the smoking of the E-cigarettes may have had on the participants.

What the researchers found was that the test subjects who smoked E-cigarettes with the nicotine cartridge installed developed statistically significant degrees of airway constriction and inflammation—not unlike some of the airway conditions seen in people after smoking regular cigarettes.

The authors of the study concluded that E-cigarettes assessed in the context of their study were found to have immediate adverse physiologic effects after short term use similar to some of the effects seen with tobacco smoking. They advise against using the electronic cigarette until additional studies are performed that determine whether long-term smoking of E-cigarettes is truly safe as advertised, or if it can lead to medical conditions such as emphysema.

Related to this article is an online video that shows how scientists have recently created a safer, tobacco-containing cigarette that can be used as an alternative to smoking regular cigarettes that exposes smokers to far less amounts of the toxic compounds that come from smoking typical cigarettes.

Source: Chest 141 (1), Jan, 2012 Constatine Vardavas, Nektarios Anagnostopoulos, Marios Kougias, Vassiliki Evangelopoulou. Gregory Connolly and Panagiotis Behrakis “Acute pulmonary effects of using an e-cigarette: impact on respiratory flow resistance, impedance and exhaled nitric oxide.”

Image source of an E-Cigarette: Wikipedia



The referenced Harvard study reported measures of acute constriction. Nicotine is a constrictor. Study confirmed that nicotine is delived as intended by electronic cigarettes – nothing more or less - and has little bearing on the relative safety.
Since when did taking nicotine become safe! You're missing the point of the writer's mesage which is that these e-cigarettes are not safe.
The campaign against e-cigarettes is counter-productive. It's clear they are far better for you than real cigarettes. All the tar and carcinogens are not present. Smokers are taking the nicotine anyway. Every time you stop someone from trying to stop by using e-cigarettes, you are making it more likely that they will die. Are you happy with that?
You're absolutely right. Thank god nicotine isn't available from every gas station and convenience store in the country. Thank god this study exists to ward off all those non-smokers who were considering cultivating a nicotine habit just for kicks. On a slightly more serious note, e-cigarettes are being aimed at smokers, at least some of whom have tried to cut down/quit without nicotine replacement therapy and have failed, usually completely. If you can cut out X thousand random chemicals, some of which we know contribute to causing cancer, many of which we know pretty much nothing about at all, and the price is that you keep consuming a chemical which can cause blood flow issues (I don't think we really know if it is the only thing in normal cigarettes contributing to this, do we?) - well, that's a decision I made and am happy I did - and frankly, I wish I did it sooner, for my both my bank account and body's sake. Maybe one day I'll quit nicotine as well. But quitting the rest and saving a bunch of cash at the same time feels enough like a win for me for now.
I started smoking when I was 16, when I fell pregnant at 28 I quit, I stayed smoke free for 2 and a half years and for some stupid reason started again, admittedly it was only at parties and social gathering for about a year and then every weekend until I finally started buying a pack of 20 every other day!! I could feel the tightness inmy chest returning, the lack of energy and not being able to get my breath when playing with my daughter of doing anything vigorous. My brother-in-law has sucessfully quit cigarettes for the last 3 years using an e-cigarette, he started with the cheap rubbishy ones and now uses an upto date very good version. He and my sister have got me one for my birthday and I have now stopped smoking for over a week. I am very please to report that my lungs have started to clear out the black crap and I am starting to feel more energetic, I also seem to want it less because I know I can have it whenever and whereever I want. I don't need to cram 4 cigs in before I go get my daughter from school(I never smoked in the house or infront of her), no more getting a couple of fags in before it pisses it down etc etc etc. I just pick up the ecig, have a few puffs and put it down. I'm very pleased. I'm under no illusion that there must be drawbacks/side effects to them, but the fact remains they are by no means as harmful to me as regular cigarettes, so thats got to be a good thing.
Nicotine is a stimulant that stimulates the brain much like what caffeine is used. And there are people out there that DONT WANT ME TO STIMULATE MY BRAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!! I firmly believe that the FDA should be SUIED for taking away peoples rights when they have NO PROOF WHAT SO EVER that electronic cigarettes kill people!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What's your point?! I'd think if it was your throat, bronchial tubes, etc. being constricted, would you not see that as being particulaly unhealthy i.e. a safety issue?!
Menthol does the same thing. Anytime you have a mint lozenge, or almost any cough drop, the exact same effect is taking place. Inflammation (menthol is an irritant. It helps sore throats because it also has numbing properties) and constriction (which helps with runny noses, etc.) the aroma of the flavoring used for "butter" popcorn when inhaled for long amounts of time has been shown to cause lung cancer (i.e. people who work in popcorn factories... to the extent that it's now called "popcorn workers lung" or "disease"). It also constricts your airway passages even after only a few inhalations. So then should everyone stop cooking buttered popcorn in their microwave, or ordering it at the movie theater? It is literally constricting their throat and causing the malfunction of cilia in their lungs. This is an FDA-approved chemical, Diacetyl. It's approved for food-use only, but you are still breathing it in every time you make a bag of popcorn. But we haven't done a single thing to stop Orville Reddenbaker from poisening entire populations with fake-butter flavoring. So why worry about something as benign as an e-cig? You should worry about the health-risks that are applicable to your life, and leave smokers to decide what is best for them. Besides, an e-cig is safer for YOU as a non-smoker, so why not at least be happy about that? This study is little more than a paid-for smear campaign. There are countless other products which everyone uses on a regular basis which has the exact same effects, including toothpaste and mouthwash. You use them EVERYDAY, and you aren't dead yet.
Great article! I'm glad to see that someone is willling to write about the problems of smoking--even so called "safe smoking." Smokers need to get off their defensive attitude and admit that they are sick with addiction and need to concentrate on quitting and not on finding an easy way to compensate for their addiction.
Oh and I forgot to say how hilarious I thought it was that you wrote "I'm glad to see that SOMEONE is willing to write about the problems of smoking" Hahhahaha, yeah, NOBODY is writing about that at all! That's just too funny.
Most smokers, if they are to be honest are well aware that smoking is an addiction, and addiction is an illness. Their defensiveness comes in when people who have never had this addiction, or people who have been fortunate enough to get past this addiction, give opinions that "smokers just need to stop". There is no safe smoking, however the e-cigarette is a safer way around this addiction. E-cigarettes are simply not as harmful as regular cigarettes because there is no tar, much less chemicals added, and the ingestion of nicotene is dramatically decreased. I know because was a 30 year smoker, and have used the e-cigarette for 3 months and feel much better than I have in years. I am also able to stick with this where as most other "quit smoking" methods have failed me.
You go Anonymous! I quit by taking Chantex myself, but both of my sisters have been able to successfully transition to e-cigs. I tried, but I still wanted cigs more. :) Chantex doesn't work for anyone that has a history of emotional disorders, so neither sister could qualify and they chose the next best thing.
What's with the judgement? If you aren't a smoker, why does it matter to you? If your excuse is that you have family that smoke, let them worry about their own health, and you can worry about yours. If someone wants to smoke an e-cigarette because it tastes better, it doesn't make them smell like smoke, but essentially they like smoking, where do you really have any room to judge?
I use an electronic cigarette. It did completely get me off of regular cigarettes after 25 years of smoking 3 months ago. They are a "safer alternative" to smoking. No one has ever said they are completely safe. This study is a bunch of BS. Why would you do a study with these on non-smokers? That would be like doing a study of drugs on someone that doesn't do drugs and telling them "here is a new drug that is safer than heroin but gives you the same effect". Do the same study on 30 SMOKERS for a month and then tell me the outcome. Nicotine itself in low dosages is not harmful nor a carcinogen. In fact there are even studies coming out that say how low doses can be beneficial actually. Anything in large quantities can be harmful. You can die from overdosing on water! Remember the lady that died several years back from the radio contest "pee for a wii?"
Let me guess smoking real cigarettes with all the tar and 4000 chemicals that we know of in one cigarrette stick is safer? Right? Can they come out and say that then? Because if they can't then e-cigs are safer and no I won't wait 10 years or 20 years for these paid off scientists to make a decision backed with "conclusive" scientific evidence. If you have enough money you can pay a politician, a lawyer, and in this case scientists to come to whatever conclusion that fits your agenda.
Smoking is such a comical thing to me as 'non-smoker'... it's effects are far less comical. When I look around a street of people I see these relatively hair free upright apes (which is what we are) puffing smoke from white sticks, quite amazing! The next thing that makes chuckle is the way 'smokers' as they often like to refer to themselves, are so often protective of their addiction, regardless of the health risks! The smoking problem is systemic now, 'E-cigs' wont take that away. It's a basic method of capital gain and whilst it remains that way it won't go away, in this world if you can make money from it, it will stay (I mean think about it you can even sell you're kidneys!). So wake and smell the roses, you've been duped and will continue to be and to quote Lennon 'Curse sir Walter Raleigh, he was such a stupid get!'.....though he never stopped but not through want of trying
your a loser, haha, plain and simple. This article says the only bad thing in common is constriction of airways. and I love how people praise being a "non-smoker" such as yourself. Not every smoker is bald you faggot
Every person in the world would be knowing that smoking is injurious to health .Smoking leads to cancer . Real cigarettes contain tobacco which is harmful to health and in the same way this electronic cigarettes will also be harmful in less amount , thus we should take some medicines to stop smoking rather than using electronic cigarettes .