- A new study of more than 32,000 Americans found that vaping is tied to an increased risk of lung disease, including asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.
- What’s more, e-cigarettes don’t seem to help many smokers quit. Instead, most people become “dual users,” of cigarettes and vapes, making them 3.3 times more likely to develop respiratory diseases than non-smoking non-vapers.
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Experts have long cautioned that vaping may not be much safer than smoking, and now, a three year-long study is backing them up with hard evidence about the dangers of vaping on long-term lung health.
The study, released in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on Monday, followed more than 32,000 vapers, smokers, and non-smokers from 2013 to 2016. When the study started, none of them reported any respiratory diseases, but that was not the case in follow-ups months and years later. The study found that vaping, like smoking, increased a person’s risk of developing serious long-term lung issues, including asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.
“E-cigarettes are harmful on their own, and the effects are independent of smoking conventional tobacco,” lead study author Stanton Glantz, who directs the UC San Francisco Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education, said in a press release.
This is some of the first large-scale evidence that vaping is harmful for our lungs, no matter what people may inhale. Though vapers in the study had an increased risk of developing serious lung issues, their risk was about half as bad as smokers. The respiratory diseases that both vapers and smokers tend to get, in turn, are associated with additional health issues, including hypertension and diabetes.
In the study, people who vaped regularly were more than 1.3 times as likely to develop chronic lung disease as non-vapers, while tobacco smokers were 2.6 times more likely. But perhaps most devastating of all was the news that people who smoke and vape, so-called “dual users,” were 3.3 times more likely than people who don’t puff at all to develop a chronic lung condition.
People who vape and also smoke cigarettes are worse off than people who just smoke tobacco
“Dual users — the most common use pattern among people who use e-cigarettes — get the combined risk of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes, so they’re actually worse off than tobacco smokers,” Glantz said.
This heightened risk of lung disease for dual users is a troubling find, given that people who vape tend to fall into this category more often than not (more than 64% of e-cigarette users in the study also smoked).
The study is yet another reminder that e-cigarettes are not great at helping people quit smoking. Other studies have likewise found that e-cigarettes tend to just widen the variety of tobacco products that smokers use and help hook young people on nicotine for life.
“As a consumer product, they’re a disaster,” Glantz previously told Insider, before his newest study was released.