Analysis of over 800 vaping studies conducted by Harvard Professor lays out pros and cons of vaping as we currently understand them
In the early days of vaping, we had little or no peer-reviewed information that could help support or refute their benefits. But now after years of hard work by dedicated scientists across the globe, we’re finally starting to understand what the nature of e-cigarettes really is. Among academics, and within the vaping community, it’s commonly understood that vaping is much safer than smoking. Pointing to reputable studies such as the 2015 Public Health England report that concluded vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking.
A new report released yesterday aims to explain precisely what we’ve collectively learned about vaping over the last ten years of research. The report was done by a National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine committee, lead by Dr. Nancy Rigotti of Harvard and Mass General. Analyzing over 800 vaping studies, Dr. Rigotti and her team laid out a picture of vaping that is positive for vaping but remains cautious.
The report itself is called the Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes and was mandated by Congress. They were commissioned to take an in-depth look at the evidence regarding vaping’s effect on human health. According to the release published yesterday, the committee found and analyzed over 800 peer-reviewed studies that reached many different conclusions about the health impact of vaping. After pouring over the data, the council agreed that while vaping isn’t harmless, they are much safer than combustible cigarettes and can significantly increase the chances a smoker stays quit.
This report would have been an absolute home run for the vaping industry, except for concerns raised about the long-term efficacy and utility of vaping as a smoking cessation tool, especially concerning their impact on the youth. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is the only portion of the report that any major media outlet choose to focus on.
The concern that vaping will lead to more smokers is often brought up. It’s been postulated by many studies, and it’s commonly asked in the media, so it’s not surprising that the committee also reached this conclusion. But regardless, the National Academies of Sciences Engineering and Medicine committee still firmly concluded that e-cigarettes are providing an overall benefit to society.
Vaping Doesn’t Hook Kids
There is plenty of reliable evidence disproving concerns that vaping will lead to a rise in smoking rates. The two main concerns are that vaping will attract teens, and that they will then eventually make the switch to regular cigarettes. Luckily, both of these matters have been shown to be false. A study published last year by Public Health England of over 60,000 adolescents aged 11-16 about their relationship with vaping. Even by their most liberal estimates, only around 0.5% of non-smoking teens vape on a regular basis. So it seems that rather than vaping attracting nonsmoking teens, it’s teens who had already been smoking that are likely to try vaping as an alternative. If this is the case, then vaping is serving the same role for smoking teenagers as they do for adult smokers.
The other concern is that once teens start vaping, they’ll eventually make the switch to combustible cigarettes. This has also been shown to be flimsy logic at best, as vaping has been shown to be the most successful smoking cessation tool currently available. Many studies, but most recently out of the University of Louisville, have demonstrated that vaping can help as many as 50% of smokers quit for good, much higher than even the success rate of prescription smoking aids. What’s more, these studies also show that dual-use (smoking and vaping interchangeably) is the leading culprit for failures. Therefore it makes little sense that a previously non-smoking teenager would ever make the switch to cigarettes, even after starting to use vape juice full time (which is already very unlikely).
The debate over vaping has been going on almost as long as vaping itself. But with all of the information we now have on the risks and benefits of vaping, it’s a bit discouraging that this debate still even has to happen. But unfortunately, this is because the media always chooses to focus on the negative or unknown portions, and mostly gloss over the benefits. Take even this report for example. The conclusion of the committee was that vaping, while not harmless, is overall beneficial to the public’s health.