Positive News About Vaping

For those who are waiting for legislators to finally climb off the vaping industry’s back, the news as 2017 drew to a close could be described as heartening.

The American Vaping Association (AVA), the nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that encourage the growth and sustainability of small- and medium-sized businesses in the rapidly growing vaping and electronic cigarette industry, pointed to a first-of-its-kind long-term study published in the journal Nature.

The result: researchers had found no negative health impacts from the daily use of electronic cigarettes by young adult never-smokers.

“Researchers from the University of Catania, led by Dr. Riccardo Polosa, tracked nine electronic cigarette users with no history of smoking, as well as twelve lifetime non-smokers and non-vapers, over the course of three and a half years,” the association reported. The researchers found no impact on a variety of health outcomes, including blood pressure, heart rate, lung function, exhaled breath nitric oxide, exhaled carbon monoxide, and CT scans of the lungs.

“In spite of previous health scares, our study shows for the first time no risk in long-term vapers who have never smoked in their life,” said Polosa, who presented the study at the fifth annual E-Cigarette Summit in the United Kingdom on Friday, November 17th.

Polosa, the group continued, noted that “while even longerterm research is needed to rule out any possible negative impacts, changes in spirometry and CT scans can be seen in young smokers after approximately two years of cigarette usage. With the vapers, no signs of lung damage, including COPD, lipoid pneumonia, and popcorn lung, were found in CT scans, even among the study participants with the highest consumption of e-liquid.”

In the United States, far less than 1% of adult never-smokers are current vapers, with an even smaller proportion reporting vaping daily, according to the CDC’s 2015 National Health Interview Survey. Despite this, much of the concern in the media and scientific circles revolve around fears of the impact of vaping on nonsmokers.

“Mouse and cell studies may generate salacious headlines about the supposed dangers of vaping, but they are no replacement for studies on actual humans,” said Gregory Conley, President and founder of the association. “If no negative health impacts can be seen from daily vaping among those who previously did not smoke, how is it ethical to continue warning smokers away from using these products?”

AVA also trumpeted another major study that found vaping could save 6.6 million American smokers. As it noted in a release, “In what could turn out to be a transformative moment in the debate over vaping in America, a research team led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is now estimating that vaping could save the lives of up to 6.6 million U.S. smokers over the next 10 years.”

On the basis of this evidence, AVA continued, “the researchers are recommending that public health organizations adopt a strategy of encouraging smokers to switch to vaping to hasten the decline of America’s smoking rate.”

Published in the journal Tobacco Control, the study is the first to model the best- and worst-case outcomes of U.S. smokers switching to vaping. In establishing their variables, the researchers considered a range of factors, including differing estimates on the relative harm of vapor products versus cigarettes, as well as the impact of vaping on cessation, switching, and initiation, including by nonusers.

“In the most pessimistic scenario tested by the researchers, a strategy of replacing cigarettes with vaping is calculated to save 1.6 million lives, or 160,000 lives per year.

“Even the gloomiest analysis shows a significant gain in years of life if nicotine is obtained from vaping instead of much more deadly amount of toxicants inhaled with cigarette smoke,” said David Levy, a lead researcher and professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi. “Old policies need to be supplemented with policies that encourage substituting ecigarettes for the far more deadly cigarettes.”

The study, which involved researchers from Georgetown University, Yale University, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and others, was funded by the National Institutes of Health. In total, the researchers conclude that as many as 86.7 million years of life could be gained by smokers who make the switch during the ten-year period modeled in the study.

Association president Conley had this to say: “This study could represent a seismic shift in the way the FDA and public health groups look at vaping. For years, harm reduction advocates have relied on quality research from independent European researchers and non-government organizations, only to be told that such research was somehow not trustworthy because the authors were not American. Now, we have some of the most respected American researchers in the field of tobacco control explaining in detail how vaping can and will save lives.

“If there is a fault with this research, it is that it assumes that a functional vaping market will still exist in a decade. Unless FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb acts to reform the FDA’s outdated tobacco regulatory system, over 99% of vapor products could be banned in or before 2022. We are hopeful that studies like this will give Gottlieb the confidence he needs to truly modernize the way FDA regulates smoke-free nicotine products.”