Smoking Alternative E-cigarettes Not Safe Study Says
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.
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.”
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