Study: Dangerous Particles Found In Tobacco Smoke Reduced Up To 1,000 Times In E-Cigarettes

(REUTERS/David Becker)

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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Dangerous chemicals in cigarettes that can potentially cause cancer are produced at levels 100-1000 times less in e-cigarettes.

A study from Penn State College of Medicine shows levels of free radicals — “molecules associated with cell damage and cancer” — are dramatically lower in e-cigarettes than in regular tobacco cigarettes. The findings join a host of studies showing e-cigarettes are significantly safer.

Published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, the study compliments research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health showing a much lower presence of free radicals in e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes.

“While e-cigarette vapor does not contain many of the toxic substances that are known to be present in cigarette smoke,  it’s still important for us to figure out and to minimize the potential dangers that are associated with e-cigarettes,” says professor John Richie.

But despite the evidence showing e-cigarettes contain substantially reduced levels of free radicals the Penn State press release is almost entirely focused on the potential dangers of vaping rather than its harm reduction potential.

Dr. Michael Siegel, professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University School of Public Health, tells The Daily Caller New Foundation, “the results of this study are important for two reasons. First, by detecting free radicals in e-cigarette aerosols, it will help the FDA as well as e-cigarette manufacturers themselves to study methods to reduce the levels of these chemicals.

“Testing for these free radicals should now become a standard part of e-cigarette aerosol testing, which should also include measuring levels of formaldehyde and other carbonyl compounds and diacetyl. As technology improves, I am confident that we will be able to devise improved products that have much lower levels of these free radicals and other compounds.”

Siegel, who has 25 years experience in the field of tobacco control, adds another important factor almost entirely absent from the Penn State analysis:

The second important finding of the study is that the level of free radicals in e-cigarette aerosol was 100 to 1000 times lower than that in conventional cigarette smoke. This adds to the already abundant evidence that vaping is much safer than smoking. The press release issued by Penn State notes that ‘there’s a perception that e-cigarettes are healthier than regular cigarettes.’ I would argue that this ‘perception’ is a known fact.

According to research published in Toxicology in Vitro, inhaling vapor from e-cigarettes has roughly the same effect on people’s airwaves as breathing air.

To model the possible harmful effect of e-cigarette vapor, which contains among other things nicotine and flavorings, British American Tobacco partnered with tissue engineering firm MatTek to use a smoking robot with respiratory tissue.

After six hours of exposure to tobacco smoke, cells died off but after an “aggressive and continuous” dose of vapor, the effect on airway tissue was “similar to that of air.”

A highly cited independent study from Public Health England published in August concluds e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than cigarettes and could be “game-changer” for getting people to quit smoking.

The study says that while e-cigarettes may not be totally safe, they contain almost none of the chemicals in cigarettes associated with serious diseases like lung cancer and emphysema.

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