Electronic cigarettes were invented as a safer delivery device for nicotine. Scientists have proven that nicotine is not the most harmful substance in smoking. The most harmful process is inhaling tobacco tar, which causes cancer and respiratory diseases. Since the tobacco in electronic cigarettes heats up and does not burn, the user is protected from harmful combustion products, such as carbon monoxide and carcinogenic tar. Those who vape e-cigarettes considered them less toxic and harmful. However, the question of whether e-cigarettes have the same impact on human health as cigarettes remains unanswered.
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The article “Health Impact of E-cigarettes: A Prospective 3.5-year Study of Regular Daily Users Who Have Never Smoked” answers this question. Researchers at the University of Catania in Italy, led by Riccardo Polosa, conducted a long-term study (for 3.5 years) of changes in the objective and subjective respiratory parameters of e-cigarette users (Polosa et al., 2017). The researchers selected two groups to observe: nine daily e-cigarettes users and a reference group of twelve people who never smoked (Polosa et al., 2017). The test included measurements of blood pressure, heart rate, body weight, measurements of lung function, respiratory symptoms, and airway inflammation. The study demonstrated the long-term positive results in people who smoke e-cigarettes.
Daily exposure to steam vaping did not cause significant changes in any of the health metrics studied, including measurements of lung function and pneumonia. Six out of nine vapers used liquids containing nicotine, so it can be concluded that nicotine is not the cause of most smoking-related problems. The study found no changes in either pressure or heart rate of the vapers. In this study, no significant changes were found in lung function and respiratory symptoms (Polosa et al., 2017, p. 3). Despite the relatively small sample size in this study, the results indicate that long-term use of e-cigarettes does not lead to significant health problems.
There are many clinical trials and research projects that have produced promising results for vaping. The data was collected from some of the most important current studies. They represent exploratory qualitative data analysis using various focus groups. The study researched smokers who use only traditional cigarettes, who quit smoking about six months before the start of the study, who use electronic cigarettes, and those who undergo nicotine replacement therapy. These data have shown that the use of e-cigarettes can neutralize the harm from tobacco smoking in the long term.
For example, a 2018 study conducted in collaboration with the Center for Tobacco Products found that e-cigarettes have no biological effects on humans. Although they can force young people to use them to switch to tobacco products, they can also increase the cessation of the use of flammable tobacco cigarettes (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018). There is moderate evidence from observational studies that higher e-cigarette use is associated with a higher likelihood of quitting. By completely switching to electronic cigarettes, the smoker significantly reduces the effect of toxins and carcinogens in comparison with regular cigarettes.
Dr. David Levy from the Georgetown Center for Comprehensive Cancer Research in Lombardi has conducted a similar study, according to which, e-cigarettes can help to quit smoking. Levy and his research team have analyzed data from a sociological survey of 2014–2015, in which more than twenty-four and a half thousand recently quit smokers took part (Levy et al., 2018. It turned out that the more often smokers used e-cigarettes, the more often they tried to quit smoking, and the more likely they were to succeed. Every extra day with an e-cigarette increased the likelihood of a person quitting smoking by 10% (Levy et al., 2018, p. 933). The smokers who used e-cigarettes for 20 or more days in the last month were especially successful (Levy et al., 2018, p. 933). Therefore, the more often smokers use electronic cigarettes instead of regular ones, the more likely they are to quit a bad habit.
Similarly, Lion Shahab researched the effect of electronic cigarettes on the body of an experienced smoker. Scientists analyzed the composition of saliva and urine to determine the content of nicotine in the body (Shahab et al., 2017). The data collected showed that electronic devices and nicotine replacement therapy can almost completely replace traditional cigarettes for the body to obtain nicotine. E-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy have shown the same effect (Shahab et al., 2017). Thus, the study proved that e-cigarettes and other tobacco-free methods of delivering nicotine to the body are significantly safer than traditional smoking.
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Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo together with the Medical University of Silesia in Poland provided a similar study. They measured seven nicotine metabolites and seventeen tobacco smoke exposure biomarkers in the urine samples of twenty smokers (Goniewicz et al., 2017, p. 160). Scientists established that with an almost equal receipt of nicotine, the concentration of toxins and carcinogenic substances in the blood of participants who completely abandoned tobacco products was significantly lower. This means that they can become a full-fledged substitute for tobacco and a way to abandon it.
To sum up, the studies reviewed in this paper have shown that e-cigarettes can be an effective and safe alternative to smoking. They reproduce the process of smoking and associated rituals, providing a significant compensatory effect on both the physical and psychological levels. Moreover, it was researched that the consumption of small doses of nicotine does not have a significant adverse effect on the cardiovascular system and lungs. The recent surveys carried out by Dr. Polosa and other researchers added to the growing body of documentary evidence in this area, clearly demonstrating that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than traditional cigarettes.
Goniewicz, M.L., Gawron, M., Smith, D.M., Peng, M., Jacob, P. and Benowitz, N.L. (2017) ‘Exposure to nicotine and selected toxicants in cigarette smokers who switched to electronic cigarettes: a longitudinal within-subjects observational study’, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 19(2), pp.160-167. Web.
Levy, D.T., Yuan, Z., Luo, Y. and Abrams, D.B. (2018) ‘The relationship of e-cigarette use to cigarette quit attempts and cessation: insights from a large, nationally representative US survey’, Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 20(8), pp. 931-939. Web.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2018) Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes. National Academies Press. Web.
Polosa, R., Cibella, F., Caponnetto, P., Maglia, M., Prosperini, U., Russo, C. and Tashkin, D. (2017) ‘Health impact of E-cigarettes: a prospective 3.5-year study of regular daily users who have never smoked’, Scientific Reports, 7(1), pp.1-9. Web.
Shahab, L., Goniewicz, M.L., Blount, B.C., Brown, J., McNeill, A., Alwis, K.U., Feng, J., Wang, L. and West, R. (2017) ‘Nicotine, carcinogen, and toxin exposure in long-term e-cigarette and nicotine replacement therapy users: a cross-sectional study’, Annals of Internal Medicine, 166(6), pp. 390-400. Web.