Researchers from the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health are suggesting that electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) adversely affect users airways, thus raising concern about the safety of these products.
Yet they ignored the relative dangers of actual smoking.
The new paper, published in the journal Chest, provided 30 "healthy" smokers with e-cigarettes, the electronic devices that deliver a dose of nicotine in a vaporized liquid, thereby eliminating the dangerous combustion products of cigarette smoke. After five minutes of using an e-cigarette, the participants lungs showed signs of airway constriction and inflammation, researchers found.
So what? Anything you inhale will affect your airways. Airway constriction is non-specific and has nothing to do with lung problems like emphysema or lung cancer, which are associated with smoking. You can t assume from these data that there would be any long-term harm. Further, I wonder what tests these folks used to detect airway inflammation, which is not reflected in the airway dynamics they measured.
Not only do e-cigarettes eliminate a user s exposure to the carcinogens found in cigarette smoke, but they also avoid second-hand smoke, thus providing a clear risk reduction relative to regular smoking. With respect to this risk reduction, ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava asked, What about investigating what happens in the airways five minutes after inhaling cigarette smoke? By failing to compare the effects of e-cigarettes to the effects of smoking cigarettes, the authors really undercut the validity of this study s conclusions.
ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom agrees. "The moment I saw that they didn t run the same experiment using actual cigarettes," he said, "I knew this was pure (and not even especially well done) junk an agenda-based report clumsily masquerading as science.
The study s lead researcher recommends that, instead of trying e-cigarettes as a reduced-risk method to quit smoking, smokers should stick to the methods that are known to work. But he would have more accurately said, stick to the methods that are known to not work, since those currently approved have a success rate of only 5 to 10 percent.
It s the old quit or die, abstinence-only agenda.