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Ecig Safety Update: Vaping as Safe as Breathing

By Tyler McCanus

Thursday July 23, 2015
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Ecig safety is probably the biggest supposed question mark surrounding vaping today. Every smoker who is looking to make the switch (and why wouldn’t they? Smoking is bad for you, is expensive, it stinks, etc…) has probably thought about picking up an electronic cigarette. The first thing they may wonder is are ecigs safe. If they are going to be switching out one type of intake (smoke) for their body and replacing it with another (vapor), they want to know that this is the right choice. The smart choice. The healthy choice.

It’s only reasonable too. “Are ecigs safe?” people ask me, all the time. I tell them what I think and I point them in the right direction of more information. More than anything, I tell them to make an educated choice for themselves after they weigh anything and everything. I do that even when every cell in my body is screaming, “you realize you are smoking TOBACCO CIGARETTES, right? Tell me how much worse can it get for your body!” But people want facts and understandably so. Ecig safety means many things, but first and foremost it means that what people are bringing into their body isn’t going to do just as much damage as smoke.

Often the case isn’t that. It should be “is this better for me than smoking cigarettes” because that’s the point. But highly critical opponents of vaping will simply compare it with not smoking at all. Basically, they compare it to the alternative of quitting altogether. Easy for them to say! Millions of smokers are or have been trying to do that with very little success. Thankfully, millions more have made the successful switch to electronic cigarettes in the past few years. Most of those people are probably just happy they aren’t smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes anymore. They can feel the effects when they wake up in the morning and they can certainly see it at the end of the month when they look at their credit card bills. But if they still have any concerns about vaping, a new research study should help calm those fears.

Vaping is as Safe as Breathing Air

vapor-as-safe-as-breathing-airVaping is as safe as breathing air, that’s the conclusion of this new study that was conduced by the MatTek Corporation. That’s the headline that drew your eyes to this piece, so we won’t beat around the bush here any longer.

What scientists did in this ecig safety study was expose human lung cells to a smoking robot, which mimicked the effect of a person smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Not surprisingly, the cells only lasted 6 hours before they died. Scary stuff right there, but again, not a shocker for anyone who understands the risk of tobacco smoke.

The next part of the experiment involved taking the so-called smoking robot and making it into a vaping robot. Essentially, they wanted to see what would happen to these lung cells if they were exposed to vapor instead of smoke.

The results may help answer the are ecigs safe question, or at least give us some more signs in that directions. What researchers found was that any damage to the airway tissue was “similar to that of air.” Mind you this was after applying what they termed “aggressive and continuous” amounts of vapor to these cells. BAT spokesperson Dr. Marina Murphy summed it up in a statement saying, “By employing a combination of a smoking robot and a lab-based test using respiratory tissue, it was possible to demonstrate the e-cigarette aerosols used in this study have no [toxic] effect on human airway tissue.”

Incredible news to the vaping community, that’s for sure. Not to burst any bubbles, but there is a caveat or two here. See, the “BAT spokesperson” actually works for Big Tobacco. BAT is shorthand for British American Tobacco. Yes, it turns out BAT funded this research. Ugh. That’s not a good sign for those of us who justifiably are wary of Big Tobacco. I mean these guys did lie to us for decades about the effects of traditional tobacco smoke and scored huge profits will doing so. So should we toss this new data in the we-can’t-trust-it bin? Not so fast, other more esteemed figures.

One of those voices is Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at Boston University. He works in the department of community health science, in the renowned university’s school of public health. Dr. Siegel has embraced these findings, explaining that, “Despite the limitations of the research, it adds additional evidence to support the contention that vaping is a lot safer than smoking.” Due to the gravity of what ecigarettes can do for millions of smokers, he understands this progress of ecigs for the monumental and perhaps revolutionary impact they can make. “Such a phenomenon would result in the greatest public health miracle of our lifetimes,” Dr. Siegel insists.

Perhaps a more biased figure is Tom Pruen. Pruen serves as the chief scientific officer of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association, so he would have a more particular viewpoint on this. Still, he countered that even though BAT funded this study, it doesn’t disqualify it from the conversation of ecig safety.

“While I’m sure that for many the source of the research will be a problem, of recent years the science conducted by the tobacco industry has been of very good quality, and despite the historic issues I wouldn’t view it with any greater skepticism than research conducted elsewhere,” said Pruen. He surmised that the results “are not unexpected” in his opinion and based on previous research, such as this study from last year.

Ecig Safety a Question of Framing

Choice between cigarette and e-cigarette

Choice between cigarette and e-cigarette

So what we have here is a bit of a conundrum. Data is backing up the fact that ecig safety isn’t a major concern as far as the vapor itself, but a lot of the newest data is coming from an unsavory source. This doesn’t make it easy to answer the are ecigs safe question, at least not for those skeptics on the outside. Those that see electronic cigarettes as the continuation of the nationwide menace that is smoking, will not be impressed.

But most of those people aren’t smokers themselves. They don’t know what it’s like to go through the trials and tribulations of trying to quit.

Electronic cigarettes, ecigs, vapor cigarettes, or whatever you want to call them, actually make a difference. We’ve seen it in our lives and that of others. Millions of smokers have made the switch and many of them had their initial apprehensions. It’s okay to second-guess and be skeptical, in general that is a safe thing to do. What isn’t safe is smoking cigarettes, and nobody disagrees about that.

It’s not that we don’t believe in vapor as an alternative to smoke, because we do. We fully expect more of these ecig safety studies to come out, and a fair share won’t even be funded by groups we are leery of (like Big Tobacco). In the meantime we know that the comparison of vapor to air isn’t even the most important one. The difference between vaping an ecig and smoking a traditional tobacco cigarette is obvious to anyone who gives it a try.

You can feel it and you can smell it. If you are thinking about making the switch, there is no time like the present to do so. Even if this latest research study hasn’t won you over, if you are still smoking then we firmly believe it is worth a try. What do you have to lose?

Tyler,

Team ECCR

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