Most of us are aware of the risk of getting cancer or cardiovascular disease from smoking cigarettes. That’s why this practice is steadily becoming less socially acceptable in large parts of the world. Unfortunately, cigarette smoking is also addictive, making quitting incredibly difficult for many people.
Large numbers of smokers manage to break free from this addiction by switching to e-cigarettes (vaping) because these still give them the nicotine ‘kick’ - hopefully without the harmful effects of tobacco. The tobacco industry has launched a massive counter-propaganda campaign to try and prevent this from happening, leaving many people confused and bewildered. What is the truth?
Here’s at least a big part of it. Two studies - one in 2017 and the other one last year - have confirmed that long-term vaping is far safer than smoking, particularly as far as cardiovascular health is concerned.
2019 Study by University of Dundee
In the 2019 study, which was the biggest clinical trial to date, scientists from the University of Dundee in the UK found a ‘clear early benefit’ for those people who switched from smoking to vaping. Those individuals who replaced cigarettes with vaping saw a 1.5 percentage point improvement in their blood vessel function within four weeks compared to their cigarette-smoking counterparts.
The researchers cautioned, however, that more research was needed to confirm that this benefit would continue over the longer term. If the improvement during the first month was sustainable over the long term, they added, people who switched to vaping will have a 13 percent lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks.
The study involved 114 British adults who had been smoking 15 or more cigarettes per day for two years or longer, and who didn’t suffer from cardiovascular disease. Of these, 37 replaced cigarettes with e-cigarettes containing nicotine, 37 traded cigarettes for e-cigarettes without nicotine, and 40 went on smoking cigarettes containing tobacco.
Using a standard FMD test (which measures how far a blood vessel opens) the scientists measured changes in the functioning of blood vessels as well as the stiffness of the vessels. All in all those participants who traded cigarettes for e-cigarettes recorded an FMD improvement from 5.5 percent to 6.7 percent during the first month.
To put it in laymen’s terms: within four weeks those who switched to vaping were nearly halfway towards reaching the FMD of someone without any cardiovascular disease and who doesn’t smoke.
2017 Study by UK and US scientists
An earlier research project conducted by scientists from, among others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (both in the United States) and the University College London in the UK came to similar conclusions.
In this study, 181 smokers or people who used
to smoke were studied to determine the long-term effects of vaping under “real
world” circumstances. Earlier studies like this relied mainly on laboratory
tests or animal research to measure the long-term effects of electronic
The participants provided saliva, breath, and urine samples and filled out questionnaires.
The scientists found that the levels of carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) and toxic chemicals in the samples of former smokers who switched to e-cigarettes or nicotine-replacement therapy were significantly lower than those of people who were still smoking tobacco products.
Another interesting finding was that those people who tried to save money by switching back and forth between cigarettes and e-cigarettes gained very little healthwise. These ‘combination smokers’ were still left with extremely high levels of carcinogens and toxins.
This study produced tangible evidence that switching to e-cigarettes or NRT reduces exposure to poisonous chemicals and causes less harm to smokers. The evidence also appears to back up a 2015 report by Public Health England, which claimed that E-cigarettes caused 95 percent less harm than tobacco.