The caveat to this research is that it originates from British American Tobacco (BAT). Although this doesn’t invalidate the science, it does mean that many in the medical community will write it off before giving it serious consideration. Hopefully, it will act as a prompt for further studies to be carried out in this area by research teams not reliant on Big Tobacco funding.
The standout result from the study was that while concentrations of cigarette smoke of 20% or more stopped the healing process, vape had absolutely no effect at 100% concentration (and with twice as much nicotine content). It led the team to conclude that neither vape or nicotine “inhibit endothelial migration”.
The results were published in Toxicology Letters (DOI is 10.1016/j.toxlet.2017.06.001). Lead researcher, Doctor James Murphy, BAT’s head of reduced risk substantiation, said “'Our results suggest that chemicals in cigarette smoke that inhibit wound healing are either absent from e-cigarette vapour or present in concentrations too low for us to detect an effect.”
The test involved growing “a layer of endothelial cells in the lab -- these are cells that line the inside of blood vessels -- creating a wound/scratch and observing how long it takes to heal. The wound heals normally when exposed cells are untreated or when they are exposed to e-cigarette vapour, but not when exposed to cigarette smoke.”
The reason why this is a useful study lies in the fact that it is accepted smoking plays a role in the development of heart disease. It is thought that the presence of damaged endothelial cells, which have an impaired ability to repair, may be one of the factors in the development of heart disease – providing a link between the ailment and smoking. If it is accepted that vaping doesn’t play the same role then it is one more step to achieving consensus on how much safer vaping is compared to tobacco smoking.
BAT added: “Previous research has shown that Vype e-cigarette vapour has 92-99% fewer toxicants than cigarette smoke. Many in the public health community believe e-cigarettes offer great potential for reducing the projected public health impact of smoking. Public Health England, an executive body of the UK Department of Health, published a report saying that the current expert estimate is that using e-cigarettes is around 95% safer than smoking cigarettes.”