The vast growth of the e-cigarette industry has prompted much discussion about just how safe it is. While the ruinous health effects of tobacco are widely established, there has been an ambiguity surrounding the risks – or indeed, the benefits – of vaping as a substitute.
Some studies have even suggested that vaping is as harmful as smoking, a damning and influential finding which strikes a blow to public health efforts; countless battles against the scourge of tobacco may have been won, but the war continues to be fought.
It is therefore to be welcomed that doubts over the safety of vaping have been largely addressed with the publication of comprehensive new research into the issue.
In what is the first long-term study of vaping’s effects in former smokers, scientists discovered that people who switched from real cigarettes to the electronic alternatives had far fewer toxins and dangerous substances in their bodies than would everyday smokers.
They included chemicals such as the highly carcinogenic acrylamide and cyanide-releasing acrylonitrile. Given that around a third of tobacco-caused deaths are due to cancer, this is important research.
The challenge will be to publicise the study’s conclusions, far from straightforward given the financial might and lobbying power of big tobacco. But be heard it must.
Research such as this can and must form a crucial part of how public health policies are drawn up. It would be short sighted to impose restrictions on vaping and e-cigarettes simply because some people think that by condoning them, it sends out the wrong message. As this study shows, the real blight is tobacco.