Last updated on December 19th, 2017
Vaping being safer than traditional cigarettes is something we vapers always love to hear, and we’re even more thrilled when the statement is backed by solid evidence. Well, the evidence doesn’t get much more solid than it is in an extensive research article published in the November 2017 issue of “Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology.”
Not only does the article back up previous studies that found vaping aerosol is less toxic than cigarette smoke, but it creates a comprehensive framework that can be used to asses vaping products against traditional cigarettes going forward.
The framework developed by a team of 12 researchers looked at previously established studies, introduced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other researchers, to generate a comprehensive way to compare modified risk tobacco and nicotine products with traditional cigarettes.
The framework takes next generation products through an extensive series of assessments that include:
- Pre-clinical studies: Testing performed in labs to evaluate toxic and pharmacological effects before testing can move forward to involve humans. In the case of this research project, the pre-clinical studies were performed in vitro, or in test tubes, rather than on animals or other living organisms.
- Clinical studies: Testing that involves humans to determine if the device or substance being tested is safe and effective.
- Population studies: Scientific studies focusing on human populations.
Each phase of the framework consists of two or more stages, as outlined in Fig. 1 from the study published on the ScienceDirect website.
Of course, the researchers involved in the project tested their framework, comparing a traditional cigarette with a commercial e-cigarette.
The traditional cigarette they used is known as R4F, a King-sized cigarette containing an American blend of tobacco consisting of Virginia, oriental and burley tobacco. This particular product is consistently used in studies across the world by regulatory and public health scientists.
The commercial e-cigarette they chose was the Vype ePen.
The overall results? The Vype ePen indeed “has the potential to be a reduced risk product.” Keep reading to see how the researchers came to this conclusion.
The pre-clinical phase of the framework consists of six different stages. These are:
- Product design stability
- Chemical and physical characterization
- In vitro regulatory toxicology
- Computational toxicology
- In vitro models of disease
- Systems science
Product design stability focuses on three main goals. The first is ensuring the product fulfilled sensory, ritual and nicotine delivery expectations. The second is making sure consumers receive maximum sensory benefits with minimum toxicants. The third aims to establish overall quality in products ready to hit the market.
Chemical and physical characterization assessed the reduction of harmful and potentially harmful elements in vaping products as compared to traditional cigarettes.
In vitro regulatory toxicology looked at the toxic components using variety of scientific tests. It also reviewed the elements contained in the vaping cloud as well as residue from the vaping cloud that’s trapped in a filter pad.
Here researchers obtained filter trappings using a puffing machine that mimicked human vaping patterns. Components left behind from vaping were compared to components left behind from smoking.
Just Look at the Results!
The above images show filter pads comparing e-cigarette aerosol with smoke from traditional cigarette, from the study published on the ScienceDirect website.
Computational toxicology assessed the potential residual risk of vaping when compared to smoking. Vaping easily won out with a reduced computational toxicological profile.
The in vitro models of disease stage reviewed the effects of emissions on human lung cells. Cigarette smoke resulted in significant oxidative stress and completely obliterated the ability of cells to repair a wound. Vaping emissions did neither.
The systems science phase reviewed a 3-D model of lung tissue to determine how vaping compared to smoking when it came to long-term effects that resulted in diseases. Again, the risks were dramatically lowered with vaping.
The clinical studies phase of the framework involves two stages:
- Exposure and pharmacokinetic (PK) studies
- Biomarker of effect studies
The exposure and pharmacokinetic (PK) studies stage moved from lab puffing machines to consumers to see if lab conditions matched real-life conditions.
While the study found consumers have much more varied habits of vaping than the systematic puffing machines, the results remained positive. Toxins were reduced when people gave up cigarettes in favor of vaping.
The biomarker of biological effect stage aims at reviewing the health effects of smokers who:
- Continue to smoke
- Switch to vaping, a similar next-generation product, or stop smoking altogether
The researchers looked at the effects over a six to 12-month period and found switching to vaping reduces disease-related repercussions. Examples include helping to reverse smoking harm in asthma patients and improving symptoms and physical activity levels of those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Reduction of harm was most significant for smokers who gave up smoking altogether, although dual users who continued to smoke while vaping also experienced benefits.
The framework’s third and final phase involves population studies, which specifically looks at two main elements:
- Consumer perception study
- Post-market surveillance
Researchers reviewed data from past studies to model the potential health outcomes of introducing vaping to the marketplace. Results pointed to an overall beneficial effect of launching vaping into the marketplace, with a noted decrease in smoking-related mortality rates.
The extensive research, studies, testing and data analysis that went into running products through the framework all resulted in the solid conclusion that next generation tobacco and nicotine products are “potentially reduced risk” options. That’s the scientifically correct way of saying vaping beats out smoking for sure.
While this particular study focused on a single e-cigarette product, one would expect similar results from similar products.
The comprehensive findings resulting from the project likewise lay a firm foundation for testing vaping products going forward to ensure they continue to maintain and even improve their ability to reduce risk, decrease harm, and provide consumers with a beneficial alternative to traditional cigarettes.
Do you have any concerns about switching to vaping? Please join the conversation by commenting below!