Many people believe that smoking e-cigarettes, or vaping, is less toxic than using regular cigarettes, and that they’ll help with quitting regular cigarettes. However, there is little data and evidence to back those beliefs.
Dr. Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, says that a person is not doing himself a favor by using e-cigarettes as a method of smoking cessation from regular cigarettes. Glantz has analyzed a number of studies that focused on the use of e-cigarettes to quit regular cigarettes. He found that vaping actually lowers a person’s chance of successfully quitting regular cigarettes by 28 percent.
“For most people, they inhibit quitting,” Glantz says.
The wide variety of e-cigarette flavorings (in the thousands) makes researching and assessing their negative effects to the health difficult. Many chemicals in the flavorings, such as diacetyl, have been deemed by the FDA as “safe” for consumption, but aren’t safe at all for inhalation. The environment of the stomach is not the same at all as the environment in the lungs.
One study tested the effects of cinnamaldehyde, the flavoring used in cinnamon e-cigarette liquid. The cinnamaldehyde seemed to impede the function of immune cells as opposed to non-smokers, who showed to have healthily functioning immune systems.
Diacetyl and its cousin, 2,3 pentanedione, are chemicals that produce a creamy or buttery flavor, and has been linked to obliterative bronchiolitis, a serious lung disease where the smallest airways of the lungs become scarred and restricted. The disease is better known as “popcorn lung” for the microwave popcorn plant workers that developed the lung disease in 2000 after long-term workplace exposure to the flavoring agent.
Public health researchers may not be as concerned with the safety of e-cigarettes if their primary purpose was regular cigarette smoking cessation. But a major problem lies with the manufacturers promoting vaping as “safe,” and their powerful marketing capacity in appealing to teens and even kids.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released results of a National Youth Risk Behavior Survey taken in 2015. Cigarette usage has decreased from 28 percent in the early 90s to only 11 percent in 2015. But according to the survey, 24 percent of high school students reported vaping in the last 30 days.