Britain's public health authorities are pushing smokers to switch to it as a safer choice; experts in the USA have warned that electronic cigarettes increase the risk of nicotine addiction among young people, while the World Health Organization has said uneasily that warming up electronic cigarettes can lead to the formation of toxic substances. Lung tissue samples provided by non-smokers were used to carry out the experiment. A third of the cells were exposed to plain e-cigarette fluid, a third to different strengths of the artificially vaped condensate with and without nicotine, and a third to nothing for 24 hours.
"I don't believe that e-cigarettes are more risky than cigarettes but I think we should have a cautious scepticism that they are as safe as we are being led to believe".
Thickett said some of the effects were similar to those seen in regular smokers and people with chronic lung disease. But since e-cigarettes have been around for only a decade, the effects of long-term vaping aren't known, he noted. None of the participants had ever suffered from asthma or COPD.
Vaping can damage vital immune system cells and could be more harmful than initially thought, according to a study from the University of Birmingham.
A survey of adolescents carried out by researchers at Coventry University showed that fewer than half of e-cigarette users knew vape products contained nicotine. Free radicals are reactive chemicals with the potential to damage cells.
The study also found that the cells that were exposed to vaped condensate were far less able to engulf bacteria.
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This week the government's Science and Technology committee would release a report on the safety of e-cigarette smoke.
Dr. David Hill is a member of the American Lung Association's board of directors who reviewed the findings.
Nevertheless, Public Health England still insists that vapes are much safer than normal cigarettes. The Birmingham researchers have added that more in depth research is necessary to understand the effects of exposure to these vapours.
Professor Thickett warned that, despite them being safer than fags, more research is definitely needed.
"We have to be careful when we promote these as safe", said Hill, who is also director of clinical research at Waterbury Pulmonary Associates, in CT.
E-cigarettes don't proceed tar or carbon monoxide; two of the main toxins in cigarette smoke, said the NHS. In this latest small experimental study, published online in the journal Thorax, researchers devised a mechanical procedure to mimic vaping and produce condensate from the vapour.