On Wednesday, President Trump announced a desire to ban flavored e-cigarette products nationwide. The move comes after six people have died after using vapes or other e-cigarette products. To put that in perspective, nine million adults vape regularly; tens of millions more adults and teens have tried vaping at least once. In particular, Juul is facing backlash due to its heavy nicotine concentration. But what does the science say about vaping?
In 2014, a number of doctors working for the European Addiction Research journal released a ground-breaking study. Contrary to popular media sentiment, it reveals that electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDs, or e-cigs/vapes) are actually much less dangerous than cigarettes. This comes in spite of the fact that they are purer than cigarettes (contain a higher percentage of nicotine).
Vapes Are 96% Safer Than Cigarettes
The study examined the relative dangers of cigarettes, cigars, vapes, pipes, and other nicotine products. It measured ten factors, some personal and some interpersonal. These include economic costs, crime, injury, death, and dependence, among others.
In the study, cigarettes were the most dangerous by far, receiving a maximum relative harm (MRH) score of 100. Small cigars came next with an MRH of 67, but after that, the figures drop off considerably. Pipes score 22, cigars 15, and water pipes 14.
Where do vapes fall on the spectrum? They, in fact, are near the bottom of the list. The study stated that e-cigs had an MRH of four, compared to 100 for cigarettes. In other words, the data claims that vapes are only about four percent as dangerous as cigarettes. The graph below fully outlines the study’s findings.
Science vs Politics
The study draws a link between purer nicotine products and relative safety, drawing the conclusion that nicotine itself is not the harmful chemical within nicotine products. Likewise, oral products including nicotine gum received an MRH of two. The authors went so far as to strongly support the use of vapes and other e-cigs for the purpose of smoking cessation.
Attempts to use other forms of nicotine such as ENDS and NRT to reduce cigarette smoking should be encouraged as the harms of these products are much lower – Nutt et al. 2014
Several other studies also point to e-cigarettes as an effective means to quit smoking due to the fact that they are radically less harmful. As the government and media crackdown against vaping continues, the science appears to stand in opposition to the president’s recent sentiments.
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