Reduced Harm Proved When Vaping Compared to Smoking
We know that cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 toxic compounds that are absent in the vapour produced by electronic cigarettes. An American toxicological study, published in open access in JAMA Network, measured for the presence of 55 indicators of proven or potential other toxins in the urine of over 3,000 adults. This landmark study confirms the reduced harm of vaping instead of smoking.
The paper Exposure to Toxicants Associated With Use and Transitions Between Cigarettes, e-Cigarettes, and No Tobacco compared the presence of these toxins in the urine of smokers and people who smoke and vape with the urine of people who exclusively vape or neither vape nor smoke.
The 55 biomarkers included:
- nicotine metabolites
- nitrosamines (TSNA)
- heavy metals
- polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
A key result showed: “There was a significant reduction in urine concentrations of TSNAs, PAHs, and VOCs when users transitioned from exclusive cigarette to exclusive e-cigarette use”.
The results from this study adds weight to the findings of previous studies demonstrating that exclusively electronic cigarette users have significantly reduced levels of toxic substances compared to smokers.
The findings highlight that the presence of toxins in the urine of vapers are at almost identical levels to that found in the urine of non-smokers – demonstrating the drastically reduced risk posed by vaping when compared to smoking. The only substance found in higher levels in vapers’ urine was nicotine, as you would expect, being close to that found in smokers’ urine. Nicotine is not a toxin at these levels.
As a warning to people who switched smoking for vaping, further research work looked at what happens when e-cig users stop vaping and return to smoking tobacco products. Vapers who begin smoking again increase the levels of some of the measured toxins sevenfold.
“A significant reduction in urinary concentrations of nitrosamines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds was observed when users switched from exclusive cigarette use to vaping, with a 92% decrease in NNAL.”
Biomarkers of volatile organic compounds increased by 621% and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons by 155%.
The findings also highlight another positive for vaping; over the monitored period, a quarter of electronic cigarette users went on to stop using all forms of nicotine products. A 25% quit rate far outstrips the potential of any other traditional quit smoking product.
Of the rest, the team discovered that 80% of them continued to use an e-cig exclusively, keeping them free from the harm of tobacco and benefitting from the measured benefits of reduced toxin levels.
Most notably, these findings came from cohorts of vapers who were using inferior products in 2013-14. It is highly likely that success rates would be even greater if measured in similar populations from 2021-22.
“Our results demonstrate the benefits of transitioning from combustible smoking to less harmful use of e-cigarettes,” they concluded.