Vaping and traditional cigarettes: both damaging to the lungs, research says

11 February 2019
Emma Russell

Vaping of high concentration causes the same toxic damage to lung cells as traditional cigarettes, a new study has found.

Researchers say the study suggests newer electronic nicotine delivery devices may not be a safer substitute for cigarette smoking.

However, New Zealand experts have slammed the study saying its methods are flawed and contradicts other studies showing vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

The University of Technology Sydney research -published in ERJ Open Research – tested the effects of new heated tobacco devices with vaping and traditional cigarettes on two types of cells taken from the human airways – epithelial cells and smooth muscle cells.

In healthy lungs, epithelial cells act as the first line of defence to any foreign particles entering the airway while smooth muscle cells maintain the structure of the airway.

However, smoking can lead to difficulty in breathing primarily by hampering the normal functions of these cells.

Dr Pawan Sharma, who led the study, said they found cigarette smoke and heated tobacco vapour were highly toxic to the cells both at lower and higher concentrations.

E-cigarette vapour showed toxicity mainly at higher concentrations, he said.

The new heated tobacco devices, only recently being introduced to New Zealand, heated tobacco leaves at a high temperature without producing any smoke.

Whereas, e-cigarettes (or vaping) vaporised just the nicotine in the tobacco. Commonly, people trying to quit smoking reduced the levels of nicotine slowly until they are just inhaling the vapour.


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