Vaping is ‘safer than conventional cigarettes’
Anti-tobacco advocacy group ASH Ireland has welcomed the results of a new study by Cancer Research UK, which found that e-cigarettes were safer than conventional cigarettes.
The research, which was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (Ann Intern Med. doi: 10.7326/M16-1107) found that smokers who swapped regular cigarettes for e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for at least six months had much lower levels of toxic carcinogens in their bodies than smokers who continued to use conventional cigarettes.
This was the first time researchers had analysed both the saliva and urine of long-term e-cigarette and NRT users, as well as smokers, and compared body-level exposure to key chemicals.
According to the research, ex-smokers who switched to e-cigarettes or NRT had significantly lower levels of toxic chemicals and carcinogens in their body compared to those who continued to smoke tobacco.
However, those who used e-cigarettes or NRT while continuing to smoke did not show the same marked differences, highlighting that a complete switch was needed to reduce exposure to toxins.
Dr Lion Shahab, senior lecturer in the department of epidemiology and public health at UCL, and lead author of the publication, said: “Our study adds to existing evidence showing that e-cigarettes and NRT are far safer than smoking, and suggests that there is a very low risk associated with their long-term use.
“We’ve shown that the levels of toxic chemicals in the body from e-cigarettes are considerably lower than suggested in previous studies using simulated experiments. This means some doubts about the safety of e-cigarettes may be wrong.”
He added that the results also suggested that while e-cigarettes were not only safer, the amount of nicotine they provided was not noticeably different to conventional cigarettes, and thus this could help people to stop smoking altogether by dealing with their cravings in a safer way.
Welcoming the results, Dr Patrick Doorley, Chairman of ASH Ireland, said that all additional research information on this relatively new product was to be welcomed, especially from well established and credible bodies who did not have a vested interest.
“We must not lose sight of the fact that e-cigarette users are still digesting certain, if reduced, level of toxic chemicals, and we need longer-term research to realise the full implications of this fact,” he added.