Could Vaping Curb Respiratory Infections Among Tobacco Smokers?

In the last few years, many Americans have opted to ditch traditional cigarettes in favor of e-cigarettes. The popularity of smoking e-cigarettes or “vaping” is largely attributed to a widely-held belief that although it releases nicotine, vaping is less harmful than smoking because it lacks the tar and other combustible chemicals found in cigarettes that cause cancer.

Despite this theory, many health experts remain divided over the topic especially because the long-term effects of vaping remain unknown.

In May 2016 the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) threw its two-cents into the debate by formally prohibiting the sell of e-cigarettes to any consumer under the age of 18. The regulation was partially in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s findings that 16% of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2015 compared to a mere 1.5% just four years earlier.

But the question still remains: Is vaping a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes?

According to survey results gathered by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) the answer is a resounding yes. Between September 2014 and December 2015 the university issued online surveys asking ex-smokers to gauge the progression of any respiratory infections after using vaping substitutions for at least two months.

The survey results, which were published in the Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy, found that of the 941 respondents:

  • 66% reported an improvement in respiratory infections
  • 29% reported no noticeable change in respiratory functions
  • 5% reported worsening respiratory conditions

The team of researchers responsible for conducting the study has suggested that vaping may stunt the progressive of respiratory infections due to the antimicrobial properties of propylene glycol, a synthetic liquid contained in e-cigarettes. As of yet, the FDA has provided no evidence indicating propylene glycol as a public health hazard.

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