Vapor Cigarettes – Medical & Environmental Research
Alternative smoking experts at Eversmoke explain scientific studies that explore the medical and environmental aspects of vapor cigarettes
Electronic, or vapor cigarettes, have been taking the world by storm for the last decade. Just in the last 5 years, sales for these alternative smoking devices have doubled, tripled, and then some.
Even though vapor cigarettes are gaining in popularity with each passing day, they simply haven't been the subject of too much in-depth research. Traditional cigarettes on the other hand have been researched extensively. A quick search will yield numerous studies over the years examining the health, environmental, and social effects of traditional smoking.
Vapor cigarettes though simply haven't been researched as thoroughly, mainly due to the fact they're so new, at least relatively speaking.
However, a few studies have been done to examine vapor cigarettes in a variety of ways – as time passes and alternative smoking technology further develops, more studies will provide a better picture of both the medical and environmental effects of vapor cigarettes.
Continue reading to learn more about vapor cigarette studies and some of the findings, both positive and negative, researchers have found. We'll be examining medical and environmental (air quality) studies. Check back with us here or at our alternative smoking blog for more on studies involving the social aspects of vapor cigarettes.
Vapor cigarette medical research – understanding effects and comparing them to traditional cigarettes
The vast majority of research studies examine the medical effects, risks and/or benefits of vapor cigarettes, and are undertaken by a variety of institutions ranging from government agencies to universities and industry-sponsored research. Continue reading for a brief overview of different studies and findings.
Toxicology, levels of carcinogens in vapor cigarettes
Since they're marketed as a safer alternative to traditional smoking, some studies have sought to understand the true chemical makeup of a vapor cigarette.
One study by the Roswell Park Cancer Institute 1 for example screened 12 different brands for the presence of four groups of toxins and potentially cancer causing substances (carbonyls, volatile organic compounds, nitrosamines, and heavy metals). The 12 brands of vapor cigarettes were compared to a medicinal nicotine inhaler. While the vapors from the devices did contain some toxic substances, the level of toxins were anywhere from 9 to 450 times lower than in cigarette smoke – in some instances, the level of toxic substance was comparable to trace amounts found in the inhaler.
Acute effects of vapor cigarettes
Other studies have examined the acute (or immediate) effects of using a vapor cigarette. Literally hundreds of studies looking at the immediate effects of traditional cigarettes have been published over the years.
But what happens when you inhale the nicotine-infused vapor from an e-cig?
One study by Dr. Thomas Eissenberg at Virginia Commonwealth University 2 examined four factors – plasma nicotine concentration, carbon monoxide concentration, heart rate, subjective effects of the user. The study included 32 participants in 4 separate scenarios – a traditional smoker, one vapor cig brand with a 18-mg nicotine cartridge, another with a 16-mg cartridge, and a sham, or unlit cigarette.
In the first five minutes, the traditional cigarette users had elevated levels of plasma nicotine, carbon monoxide, and a higher heart rate. The vapor cigarette users did not experience a marked increase in concentration or heart rate. They did however suppress nicotine/tobacco abstinence ratings.
Another study by the University of Athens 3 examined the acute effects of vapor cigarettes on the lungs. Participants were asked to use an e-cig for 10 minutes after which a test measuring airway resistance was administered. They found that using a vapor cigarette caused an instant increase in airway resistance that lasted for 10 minutes in the majority of participants.
Effects on the heart & lungs
Another area where vapor cigarettes have been examined scientifically is how they affect the heart and lungs. As you probably know, traditional cigarettes can have devastating effects on these vital organs.
One study led by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos from Greece 4 compared how a heart reacts to cigarette smoke, and how it reacts to vapor smoking. The smokers' heart rate and blood pressure skyrocketed when smoking the traditional cigarette. But the vapor cigarette users only experienced a slight uptick in blood pressure, and hardly any increase in heart rate.
According to Dr. Farsalinos' statements, "E-cigarettes are not a healthy habit, but they are a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes." This study though only examined immediate effects on the heart, so more research is needed on the long-term effects.
Another study by the University of Athens examining the acute effects of vapor cigarettes have on the lungs showed they dramatically increase airway resistance. However, no comparison to traditional cigarettes was provided, so it's hard to determine if this is one way vapor cigarettes are more dangerous than traditional ones.
Environmental research and vapor cigarettes – determining effects on air quality
Another area many researchers are focusing on is the environmental effects of vapor cigarettes. How they affect air quality is of particular concern since one of main selling points among manufacturers and retailers is that you can smoke "anywhere."
One study set out to understand how using a vapor cigarette indoors affects air quality. If you've been a smoker or been in a smoker's home, you can certainly attest to the effects traditional cigarettes have on indoor air quality.
One thing the researchers in this study did was compare vapor cigarette emissions to traditional cigarettes. What they found was that e-cigs produced very small exposures to potentially hazardous substances, especially when compared to traditional cigarettes. They concluded that vapor cigarettes pose no apparent risk to bystanders.
This study was a combined effort between the Consulting for Health, Air, Nature, & A Greener Environment (CHANGE), the Center for Air Resources Science & Engineering (CARES) and the National Vapers Club. 5
Like anything, further study is needed
Since they're still relatively new, it will be many years before we more fully understand the medical and environmental effects of vapor cigarettes. What, if any, long-term health consequences do they pose? In the long-term, are vapor cigarettes truly safer than traditional ones?
One thing is clear though – the long-term effects of traditional cigarettes are undeniable. With mountains of research, and literally millions of real world examples, many have woken up to the dangers posed by smoking – both to your health and to your surroundings.
For more on current research studies, check out our vapor cigarette blog for more. And if you're looking for a smoking alternative that's not nearly as harmful as traditional smoking, we invite you to consider vapor cigarettes from Eversmoke today.
While vapor cigarettes are not completely harmless, several studies have concluded they are way less dangerous than traditional cigarettes. Again, if you're looking for a healthier alternative, vapor cigarettes may provide the nicotine your body craves without many of the harmful effects of traditional cigarettes.