Hajek on Vaping

Posted 5th December 2019 by Dave Cross
Peter Hajek is Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London. He is an acclaimed expert in tobacco harm reduction and this year published a truly groundbreaking study demonstrating that vaping works better than NRT.

Peter Hajek’s research is concerned primarily with understanding health behaviours, and developing and evaluating behavioural and pharmacological treatments for dependent smokers. Professor Hajek is a member of a number of expert groups, advisory bodies and editorial boards, and has authored or co-authored over 350 publications.

“A Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy” was published at the beginning of the year but is now frequently referred to simply as “The Hajek Study”. It found that "e-cigarettes provided greater satisfaction and were rated as more helpful to refrain from smoking than nicotine-replacement products."

At the time, Foundation for a Smoke-Free World’s Charles Gardner said: “This is only the 3rd randomized control trial ever conducted to test if e-cigarettes help smokers quit or cause more smoking. This was the biggest one so far. Looks pretty clear that everyone who claimed that vaping is a gateway to smoking was dead wrong."

Professor Hajek is quite clear about the continued relative safety of vaping: “The recent spate of lung injuries in USA has been caused by a contaminant in bootleg marijuana products and has nothing to do with e-cigarettes used by smokers here.

“On current estimates, vaping is unlikely to pose more than some 5% of risks of smoking. This would still be an unnecessary risk for non-smokers, but there is no question that smokers who switch to vaping reduce risks to their health dramatically. E-cigarettes have helped many smokers quit and as the product is developing and improving, it is likely to help many more. So far, very few non-smokers have become regular vapers.”

Vape Dinner Lady

He noted that people shouldn’t be concerned about reports of vaping being linked to cardiovascular system issues: “The authors detected two effects. In human smokers, nicotine from e-cigarettes produced a typical acute stimulant effect, also seen after drinking coffee, that on its own signals no danger. In mice and in tissue samples, acrolein, a chemical that can be generated when e-liquid is fried, had more damaging effects. This however is not relevant for human vapers.”

“Frying e-liquid produces this chemical, but this also produces aversive taste that vapers avoid. Human vapers have acrolein levels that are the same as in non-smokers and much lower than in smokers. A British Heart Foundation study conducted at University of Dundee has now been published showing that smokers who switch to vaping have significant improvements to their cardiovascular health within four weeks!”

“Becoming dependent on vaping or nicotine is not a healthy option,” he continued. “Also, even 5% of risks of smoking is still a risk. If you are a non-smoker, it is best to avoid e-cigarettes. However, if you are a smoker who does not want to or cannot quit, this is something you should definitely try.”


  • “A Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy” by Hajek et al. – [link]
  • Twice As Good As NRT, POTV – [link]

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker