E-cigarettes harmful to long-term health

Although Public Health England has advised that using e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoking, new research has claimed that vaping can damage vital immune system cells.

Published in the Thorax journal, the research devised a mechanical procedure to imitate vaping in the laboratory, using lung tissue samples provided by eight non-smokers, and found that vapour caused inflammation and impaired the activity of alveolar macrophages, cells that remove potentially damaging dust particles, bacteria and allergens.

Cautioning against the widely held opinion that e-cigarettes are safe, the University of Birmingham-led study argues that vaping may be more harmful than previously thought and that their study proved that some of the effects of e-cigarettes were similar to those seen in regular smokers and people with chronic lung disease.


Earlier this year, Public Health England recommended that e-cigarettes should be available on prescription because of how successful they had been in helping people give up smoking, following ‘overwhelming evidence’ that they were far safer than smoking.

Prof David Thickett, who led the study, said: “In terms of cancer causing molecules in cigarette smoke, as opposed to cigarette vapour, there are certainly reduced numbers of carcinogens. They are safer in terms of cancer risk - but if you vape for 20 or 30 years and this can cause COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], then that's something we need to know about. I don't believe e-cigarettes are more harmful than ordinary cigarettes - but we should have a cautious scepticism that they are as safe as we are being led to believe."

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