Health & Studies

Polosa’s COPD Follow-up

Professor Polosa follows up on the COPD study he completed five years ago and finds that vaping improves the condition in smokers who switch to vaping

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Riccardo Polosa is one of the most prolific academic authors on the subject of vaping and tobacco harm reduction. As the founder of the Centre of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction, President of the Italian Anti-Smoking League, and Special Scientific Advisor to the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations, Riccardo has pressed governments around the world to adopt common-sense approaches to vaping. Now he follows up a COPD study he conducted five years ago.

In 2015, Polosa looked at published papers on the subject and found “there certainly is no evidence to date to suggest that there are any clinically significant adverse lung effects, at least acutely. Smokers with pre-existing asthma and COPD may benefit from regular EC [electronic cigarette] use.” [link]

In “Electronic cigarette use and harm reversal: emerging evidence in the lung” [link], he concluded that the evidence suggested switching to vaping “can reverse harm from tobacco smoking” and this should be born in mind by politicians creating legislation for the nascent industry.

Anecdotal evidence from the Planet of the Vapes forum supported this finding. Forum member Mutley1 told us how he used to be a 40-a-day rollie smoker before switching in 2013. “When I gave up and visited a specialist about my breathing it turned out I have mild COPD and my lungs were only working at 70%. I struggled doing simple things like walking my dog or playing with the grand kids. Now I’m as fit as I’m ever likely to be and don’t get out breath. I’m enjoying life!” [link]

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published “Use of Electronic Cigarettes Among U.S. Adults With Medical Comorbidities” in 2017  [link]. Lead author Gina R. Kruse MD found also recognised the potential of vaping to help reduce the damage from smoking.

She said: “Smokers with asthma, COPD, or cardiovascular disease probably use e-cigarettes for the same reasons as other adults: to quit cigarettes, reduce cigarette consumption, or reduce the harms from smoking.”

E-cigarette use by current and former smokers with medical comorbidities is substantial, especially among individuals with chronic lung or cardiovascular disease. Clinicians should routinely ask these patients about e-cigarette use, assessing potential risks and benefits in terms of reducing or quitting combustible cigarette use. Clinicians should also actively consider all pathways to help their patients quit combustible cigarettes and recommend evidence-based treatments.”

In his latest paper, Polosa worked with other Italian researchers and Jaymin Morjaria at the Department of Respiratory Medicine at the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospital. They wrote: “We present findings from a 5-year prospective assessment of respiratory parameters in a cohort of COPD patients who substantially reduced conventional smoking or achieved abstinence by switching to ECs.”

Those in the EC user group achieved a marked decline in cigarette smoking or abstinence. COPD EC users had a significant diminution in COPD exacerbations. Significant and constant improvements in lung function, CAT scores and 6MWD were reported in the EC user group over the 5-year observation period compared with the reference group.”


  • COPD smokers who switched to e-cigarettes: health outcomes at 5-year follow up” by Polosa, Morjaria, Prosperini, Busà, Pennisi, Malerba, Maglia, and Caponnetto – [link]

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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