CoEHAR was set up in 2018 at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine of the University of Catania in Italy. It is grounded in a belief that alternative products to smoking (such as electronic cigarettes, heated tobacco products and snus) offers the world new opportunities for tobacco control and prevention.
A press release accompanying the research states: “Smokers should be confident that vaping with e-cigarettes is much less harmful to the lungs than smoking cigarettes. A new article published in the Expert Review of Respiratory Medicine journal contends that there is growing evidence show that electronic cigarette emission aerosols are relatively safe compared to tobacco smoke.
Dr Polosa said: “For smokers who want to do something about their health, our review shows that switching to vaping is a very good option if they don’t want to or can’t quit completely. No-one can prove that e-cigarettes are one hundred percent safe, but all the science points to vaping being very much safer than smoking.”
“We agree with Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians of London that it is reasonable to proceed on the basis that vaping is at least 95% less risky than smoking, and probably even less risky than that,” he added.
The findings indicate that there is a lack of clear and accurate reporting of experimental studies, and this has resulted in confusion about the respiratory health risks of vaping.
“The millions of deaths resulting from cigarette smoking illustrate an ongoing, immediate and preventable tragedy that should be fully factored into a rational risk-benefit analysis,” continued Dr Polosa.
“In our view, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests substituting [electronic cigarettes] for cigarettes is an effective method of curbing the use of tobacco cigarettes.”
“Unfortunately, consumer understanding of the relative risks is distorted – and, in the past few years, fewer adult smokers have perceived e-cigarettes as less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. These misperceptions have real consequences and require corrections.”
The authors found that smokers who substituted cigarettes with electronic cigarettes experienced improvements in smoking symptoms (cough, phlegm) and exhibited lower levels of exhaled carbon monoxide. These results were even more beneficial for smokers who completely replaced cigarettes with electronic cigarettes.
Co-author Dr Donald Tashkin commented: “Yielding accurate findings for determining the respiratory health risks and benefits of e-cigarette use requires substantial improvement of current research designs. Obviously, only large long-range prospective studies of vapers who have never smoked can provide definitive data to demonstrate any potential impacts regular use of vaping products may have on long term health”.
Dr. Polosa concluded: “Challenging uninformative or even misleading research due to problem with methodology and interpretation of these studies is not enough. It is urgent to address common mistakes and to develop robust and realistic methodological recommendations in order to adequately assess the impact of EC use on human health under normal condition of use. The adoption of standardised methods can enable better tobacco harm reduction science.”.