Scientific Research on Electronic Cigarettes : Stay Informed

Critics of the e-cigarette industry tend to claim that there has been insufficient research published on the safety of electronic cigarettes for mass consumption. While it’s true that scientific literature on e-cigarettes is not as comprehensive as that for traditional tobacco products and nicotine replacement therapies, it is by no means accurate to say that no scientific research has been conducted.

What’s out there generally falls under two distinct types of studies: experiential surveys and follow-ups from people who have vaped in order to reduce their nicotine habit or eliminate it completely/studies that track the short-term health effects paired with using electronic nicotine delivery systems (often abbreviated to ENDS in scientific & industry literature), and studies that analyze the chemical composition of e-cigarette vapor and track how those chemicals are processed within the body.

Current research is lacking, however, on certain subjects related to e-cigarette consumption. The long-term health effects have not yet been fully analyzed because the industry is young and even the first vapers haven’t yet been pursuing their habit for ten years. Little is known about the social effects of electronic cigarettes; some claim that they influence young people and non-smokers, but without scientific backing these claims are tenuous at best. Studies that analyze the contents of e-cigarette vapor and the exhaled product exist (to varying degrees) but none are able to make an industry-wide claim, as lack of quality regulation has led to products of variable quality. Some e-juices might have more trace amounts of heavy metals than others because the place and quality of their production can vary so drastically. Let’s take a look at some important research on electronic cigarettes that has already been conducted:

 

Novartis AG / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Examples of Key Industry Research

  • Researchers in Italy recently conducted a study on E-Cigarette usage which concluded that e-cigarettes were an effective means of smoking cessation. The participants of the study were normal smokers who hadn’t expressed the desire to stop smoking. Similar studies conducted with other nicotine replacement methods yielded similar results, furthering the notion that e-cigarettes are effective in cessation therapies. The hope is that, instead of classifying them as medicinal devices, they will share a legal status with nicotine patches or gum, and will remain freely exchanged over the counter.
  • In May of 2013, a study called ClearStream-LIFE analyzed the toxicological effects of e-cigarette vapor, concluding that some e-liquid formulas contained toxins, but the worst-performing among them was still “795% better” than traditional tobacco cigarette chemicals. The test was conducted on living tissue samples and suggested more clinical trials involving humans should come about.
  • A study by the British Psychological Society reported that e-cigarette use could possibly improve memory and mood alongside craving reduction.
  • In April of 2010, the American Association of Public Health Professionals released an official approval of e-cigarette sales to adults. Their report claims that “the possibility exists to save the lives of four million of the eight million current adult American smokers who will otherwise die of tobacco-related illnesses over the next twenty years.”
  • Research conducted by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos in Greece showed that e-cigarettes did not have any adverse effects on ventricular function in the heart (where analog cigarettes showed acute impairment), and lower elevations of blood pressure from e-cigarette use than with tobacco cigarettes.

More information about recent studies on e-cigarette composition and consumption can be found here.

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