The coverage was met with dismay and criticism from many vapers but it ought to be borne in mind that Goniewicz has been behind many studies praised by the vaping community. Maciej has frequently commented on vaping and spoken out in favour of electronic cigarettes and their potential to be used as a harm reduction tool for smokers looking to quit.
The research findings were released on the Roswell site this week. The investigators looked at 108 separate liquids, making it a comprehensive study, analysing 145 different flavouring products. The results led the team to conclude that vapers could be exposed to high levels of the irritant benzaldehyde.
Benzaldehyde is a chemical compound found in many foods and cosmetic products. It appears to be safe when eaten or put onto skin. But it has been demonstrated to cause irritation to the airways in animals and humans. The authors caution that it may have different effects when heated and inhaled during vaping.
Goniewicz is the first to admit that the study focus was narrow, looking at just the one toxic product, but that it opens the door to further studies. Using a vaping simulator, the team looked at what levels would be present for the average vaper taking 163 puffs per day.
Benzaldehyde was detected in 74% of products investigated. The compound was discovered to be 43 times higher in cherry-flavoured liquids. “This analysis reveals some very important implications,” said Goniewicz. “Health care professionals should be asking patients not just whether they smoke tobacco cigarettes but also whether they vape e-cigarettes, and whether they are using flavored products. For e-cigarette users, it’s important that they pay attention to how the products are affecting them. If they notice irritation, maybe a cough or sore throat, when they use e-cigarettes, they might want to consider switching to a different flavoring. And it’s also important to keep these findings in perspective. The potential harm, if any, from inhaling flavored e-cigarettes would probably not even approach the dangerous, deadly effects of tobacco. It will be important to follow this work up with studies that assess the long-term effects and chronic toxicity of e-cigarette flavorings in humans.”
Goniewicz is clear that the simulator does not replicate actual vaping conditions, it only offers an approximation, but his comments did not appease some on social media. The more vocal within the vaping community declared it “lies” even though it does offer an indication that (whatever the actual risk) cherry flavours do appear to offer more of a risk as the team refer to the levels as “significantly higher.” Detractors of the study mention a comparison to acceptable levels in the chemical industry being 1,000 times more than the exposure to vapour.