According to a group of experts, including the lead author of a paper published in “Science” Amy Fairchild (dean of Public Health at OSU), knee-jerk bans on e-cigarette sales could do more harm than good. They fear such bans will take away an important tool that does help adults quit smoking.
In their paper the authors point out that the recent illnesses and deaths appear to be linked to vaping black market THC oils and this should concern us along with the rise of young people vaping nicotine. But these problems cannot all be lumped together.
Limiting access and appeal among the less harmful vaping products and leaving deadly, traditional tobacco products on the market does nothing to protect public health, according to the authors. Doing so could threaten a trend that might be leading to the demise of cigarettes.
In the wake of injuries and deaths related to vaping policymakers including the American Medical Association have favored blanket bans—either banning all vaping products or those with flavors. The authors believe policy should be shaped using all available data and that there are important distinctions to be made between nicotine and THC products as well as commercial and black-market products.
At the Ohio State University researchers decided to tackle the hot-button issue of e-cigarette use (commonly known as “vaping”). The rising level of “vaping” among both traditional cigarette smokers as a “safer” alternative and among non-smokers is of concern since the products are fairly unregulated and new users have greatly outpaced the available research data.
Using a technique called bronchoscopy the OSU researchers were looking for inflammation and other smoking related effects. Using basic e-cigarettes (no nicotine and no flavor) researchers found a noticeable increase in inflammation after four weeks of use. Although compared to the control group the measure of inflammation was small this initial data tells us that even short term use is making changes to the body at the cellular level.
The inflammation from smoking is an important factor in lung cancer and other diseases of the respiratory system.
According to researchers any kind of cellular inflammation related to e-cig use is of concern. The reason? The biological and health effects of vaping propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine are currently unknown. While the FDA has stated that these are safe for food and cosmetics heating and inhaling the substances has not been widely studied. Researchers wanted to stress even thought the study was small the noticeable effects should be of concern and very much warrant further research.
The implication of the study is that long-term use compounded with increased use and adding in flavors and nicotine may create additional inflammation. The problem is that vaping is widely considered to be a “safer” alternative to smoking tobacco products and “safer” doesn’t mean “safe.”