In a report entitled “Clearing the Air”, researchers from the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research write that electronic cigarettes are a replacement for tobacco, not a gateway to it, and that vapor emitted from these devices is less toxic than tobacco smoke.
Looking to find answers to the most burning questions regarding vaping, researchers browsed 15 databases and 1622 journal articles on the topic of electronic cigarettes, of which 170 were deemed relevant to their systematic review. That may seem like very few compared to the pool of articles originally surveyed, but considering the staggering number of poorly-conducted or blatantly false studies posted on the topic of e-cigarettes these days, it’s fairly unsurprising. If anything, this makes the finding of this review all the more important, because they are based solely on scientific evidence.
One of the most important finding of the “systematic review on the harms and benefits of e-cigarettes and vapour devices” conducted by Renée O’Leary, Marjorie MacDonald, Tim Stockwell and Dan Reist is that tobacco use by youth has been declining in the years since electronic cigarettes have become a popular alternative to smoking.
“Fears of a gateway effect are unjustified and overblown,” principal investigator Marjorie MacDonald said. From a public health perspective, it’s positive to see youth moving towards a less harmful substitute to tobacco smoking.” Please tell that to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy! Just last month he issued a warning about electronic cigarettes becoming the most popular form of tobacco use among kids – never mind that they don’t actually contain any tobacco – and urging parents to stand against electronic cigarettes. But unlike the findings of this scientific review, his claims don’t have a leg to stand on.
Another important conclusion of the review conducted by the University of Victoria is that vapor emitted by electronic cigarettes is less toxic than cigarette smoke and second-hand exposure to vapor is considerably less harmful than that to tobacco smoke. Studies have found that vaping devices don’t produce any tar, and contain only eighteen of the 79 toxins found in cigarette smoke, including considerably lower levels of certain cancer causing agents and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Tests for these substances found them substantially lower or undetectable in e-cigarette vapor compared to tobacco smoke. Additionally, research has shown that e-cig vapor is airborne for less than 30 seconds compared to 18 to 20 minutes for tobacco smoke, thus making exposure to it much less hazardous to health.
They do caution, however, that some vaping devices may emit potentially concerning levels of certain metals and particulate matter, and that there has been insufficient research done regarding certain carcinogens that may still be present in e-cig vapor. Researchers add that any such concerns could easily be addressed by manufacturing standards or improvements in product design. As a vaper, I for one appreciate this sort of approach. I’m all for more research into the effects of e-cigarette vapor on our health, as long as it is unbiased.
“The public has been misled about the risks of e-cigarettes,” said Tim Stockwell, director of University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research and co-principal investigator. “Many people think they are as dangerous as smoking tobacco but the evidence shows this is completely false.” You can say that again, Mr. Stockwell, although I doubt it will make a difference to policy makers.
“If you’re comparing cigarette smoking to the use of a vaping device, I would have to say that cigarette smoking is more harmful,” Marjorie MacDonald added.
Finally, the review found that vaping can be as effective as other nicotine replacement therapies in helping people quit smoking.
“In conclusion, we recommend that Canadian regulation of vapour devices be driven by best available evidence with a view to supporting improved public health outcomes. Policy should not be driven by ungrounded fears of a “gateway effect” but, rather, be geared towards helping tobacco smokers quit and ensuring that only the safest devices are legally available, thereby reducing harm for both direct and second hand exposure,” the authors write.
The “Clearing the Air” systematic review on the harms and benefits of electronic cigarettes was founded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
It’s nice to see objective researchers weigh in on electronic cigarettes using scientific evidence and solid facts, but it seems that this sort of research isn’t what the media is interested in writing about. The review was published last week, but so far no major news outlet has written an article about its findings. I could only find a single article on CBC News about it. That’s pretty strange considering junk science on e-cigarettes gets tonnes of exposure, but again, unsurprising. As long as it doesn’t fit its scaremongering agenda, Big Media doesn’t want anything to do with it.
Sadly, that means that very few people will actually learn the truth about vaping, while most will continue to be brainwashed by biased news outlets and legislators.
Source: University of Victoria