Scientists at British American Tobacco (BAT) and MatTek Corporation conducted a study looking at the effects of tobacco smoke and vapour on human airway cells. “By employing a combination of a smoking robot and a lab-based test using respiratory tissue, it was possible to demonstrate the ability to induce and measure aerosol irritancy and to show that the different e-cigarette aerosols used in this study have no cytotoxic effect on human airway tissue,” says spokesperson Dr Marina Murphy.
Their paper points out that there are no current standards for such investigation but the press release still carries the headline Airway test reveals e-cigarette vapour produces similar result as air. Professor Michael Siegel welcomed it, and he is in agreement with the researchers that it sets out a sound methodology for future investigations.
“Despite the limitations of the research, it adds additional evidence to support the contention that vaping is a lot safer than smoking,” states Siegel. “Moreover, it suggests that it is possible to produce an e-cigarette that has little cytotoxicity to respiratory epithelial cells.”
The professor goes on to comment that the limits on coil temperature are likely to have led to the positive outcomes and cautions against the use of overheating liquids, referring to the unwanted production of aldehydes. Doctor Farsalinos is yet to release comprehensive findings from his investigation into the effect of temperature on vape products but has commented on concerns over heating metal coils.
What is noteworthy in the BAT study is that “using an aggressive puffing regime, e-cigarette aerosol showed little cytotoxicity”, meaning that they were unable to replicate the production of formaldehyde found in some other questionable studies
While the Mirror write that this is a “shock” and “astonishing” the results will come as no surprise to those who have followed the work of reputable scientists. ECITA’s Tom Pruen told the Mirror: “While I'm sure that for many the source of the research will be a problem, of recent years the science conducted by the tobacco industry has been of very good quality, and despite the historic issues I wouldn't view it with any greater scepticism than research conducted elsewhere.”
The news is unlikely to sway those seeking to place harsh restrictions on vaping, as Professor Siegel concludes: “Unfortunately, I do not believe that the anti-tobacco groups or major health agencies, including the CDC or the FDA, are aiming to try to transform the nicotine market and achieve this huge public health victory. Instead, they are taking a zero-risk, zero-addiction approach that is ideal in a fantasy world, but destructive to the public's health in the real world.”