Research & Commentary: Study Finds ‘No Detectable Changes in Lung Health’ of E-Cigarette Users Who Have Never Smoked

Published December 5, 2017

In a first-of-its-kind analysis, researchers found “no detectable changes in lung health in never smokers who have been regularly vaping for at least four years,” according to a November study published in Scientific Reports. To date, this is the first long-term study analyzing electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) users.

In the observational study, researchers compared nine daily ENDS users that had never smoked tobacco to a “reference group of twelve never smokers.” Researchers compared health outcomes of the two groups, including “blood pressure, heart rate, body weight, lung function, respiratory symptoms, exhaled nitric oxide, exhaled carbon monoxide, and a high-resolution computed tomography of the lungs.” The researchers say their findings show “no significant changes in any of the health outcomes investigated, including measures of lung function and lung inflammation.”

The authors also observed the potential effects of nicotine and diacetyl and determined they had created no long-term negative effects.

There has been a growing concern of the “adverse cardiovascular effects” of nicotine and the use of ENDS products. Some researchers have been particularly concerned about their potential effect on blood pressure and heart rate. The Scientific Report study found no significant changes in blood pressure or heart rate among e-cigarette users. Researchers also found higher concentrations of diacetyl did not lead to the development of “bronchiolitis obliterans,” commonly called “popcorn lung.”

This is the latest, but not only, study showing evidence ENDS can be used effectively and safely as a tobacco harm reduction tool. In 2015, Public Health England found e-cigarettes to be “around 95% safer than smoking.” The Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians concluded in 2016 e-cigarette use is “unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco.” Similarly, NHS Health Scotland issued a joint statement in September 2017 in which the agency said “vaping e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoking tobacco.”

An estimated 480,000 Americans die each year due to smoking cigarettes regularly. Related health care costs are estimated to be as high as $170 billion per year. Further, more than 60 percent of those costs are “paid by public programs, including Medicare, other federally sponsored programs, or Medicaid.”

ENDS have “proven effective at helping smokers reduce their cigarette use or quit altogether”  and could help states’ budgets, according to J. Scott Moody, chief executive officer and chief economist at State Budget Solutions. Moody found in 2012 Medicaid savings could have amounted to $49 billion if ENDS had been adopted and used in place of tobacco cigarettes.

Policymakers should carefully consider the growing body of evidence showing e-cigarettes and vaping devices to be safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes. Rather than enacting burdensome taxes and regulations that are similar to those imposed on tobacco products, lawmakers should enact policies that promote tobacco harm reduction tools, including ENDS.

The following articles provide more information about ENDS products and tobacco harm reduction.

Vaping, E-Cigarettes, and Public Policy Toward Alternatives to Smoking
For decades, lawmakers and regulators have used taxes, bans, and burdensome regulations as part of their attempt to reduce the negative health effects of smoking. Recently, some have sought to extend those policies to electronic cigarettes. This booklet from The Heartland Institute urges policymakers to re-think that tax-and-regulate strategy. Policymakers should be mindful of the extensive research that supports tobacco harm reduction and understand bans, excessive regulations, and high taxes on e-cigarettes often encourage smokers to continue using more-harmful traditional cigarette products.

Research & Commentary: Study Finds E-Cigarettes Would Prevent 6.6 Million Premature Deaths–commentary-study-finds-e-cigarettes-would-prevent-66-million-premature-deaths
In this Research & Commentary, Heartland Institute State Government Relations Manager Lindsey Stroud examines an October 2017 Tobacco Control study that found electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) might help extend life for millions of people. The authors of the study found there was an estimated 6.6 million fewer deaths and more than 86 million fewer-life-years lost over a ten year period because of ENDS products. Stroud concludes the use of ENDS could also help improve the budgets of numerous state programs, including Medicaid.

Research & Commentary: Vaping Taxes and Bans Hurt Smokers Trying to Quit–commentary-vaping-taxes-and-bans-hurt-smokers-trying-to-quit
In this Research & Commentary, Heartland Institute Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans and State Government Relations Manager Lindsey Stroud examine vaping bans and taxes and consider how such measures block or limit what is for many smokers an effective method for halting the use of tobacco cigarettes.

Research & Commentary: Public Health Officials Urge Use of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems
In this Research & Commentary, Heartland Institute State Government Relations Manager Lindsey Stroud notes the importance of NHS Health Scotland’s joint statement encouraging the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) as an alternative to tobacco products. NHS Health Scotland, Public Health England, and other groups have found ENDS are 95 percent less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

Qualitative Study on E-cigarettes Shows More Evidence of Tobacco Harm Reduction
In this Research & Commentary, Heartland Institute State Government Relations Manger Lindsey Stroud examines a study, published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in June 2016, that provides additional evidence showing e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products (VNPs) are an effective tobacco harm-reduction tool.

Nicotine without smoke: Tobacco harm reduction
This report aims to provide a fresh update on the use of harm reduction in tobacco smoking, in relation to all non-tobacco nicotine products but particularly e-cigarettes. It concludes that, for all the potential risks involved, harm reduction has huge potential to prevent death and disability from tobacco use, and to hasten our progress to a tobacco-free society. 

E-Cigarette Primer for State and Local Lawmakers
Joel Nitzkin provides evidence e-cigarettes work as a tobacco harm reduction modality and reviews the arguments against them. He closes with recommendations for actions state and local lawmakers should and should not consider regarding tobacco harm reduction and e-cigarettes. 


Nothing in this Research & Commentary is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. For further information on this and other topics, visit the Budget & Tax News website, The Heartland Institute’s website, our Consumer Freedom Lounge, and PolicyBot, Heartland’s free online research database.

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