A new study has found that vaping of high concentration causes the same toxic damage to lung cells as traditional cigarettes.
Researchers say the study suggests newer electronic nicotine delivery devices may not be a safer substitute for cigarette smoking.
As reported by news 18, the study has compared new heated tobacco devices, which heat solid tobacco instead of e-liquid, with vaping and traditional cigarettes showing that all the three are toxic to the cells.
However, New Zealand experts have slammed the study saying its methods are flawed and contradicts other studies showing vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than traditional cigarettes.
The University of Technology Sydney research -published in ERJ Open Research – tested the effects of new heated tobacco devices with vaping and traditional cigarettes on two types of cells taken from the human airways – epithelial cells and smooth muscle cells.
In healthy lungs, epithelial cells act as the first line of defence to any foreign particles entering the airway while smooth muscle cells maintain the structure of the airway.
However, smoking can lead to difficulty in breathing primarily by hampering the normal functions of these cells.
Dr Pawan Sharma a researcher at the University of Technology Sydney and the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Australia, who led the study, said they found cigarette smoke and heated tobacco vapour were highly toxic to the cells both at lower and higher concentrations.
E-cigarette vapour showed toxicity mainly at higher concentrations, he said.
The new heated tobacco devices, only recently being introduced to New Zealand, heated tobacco leaves at a high temperature without producing any smoke.
Whereas, e-cigarettes (or vaping) vaporised just the nicotine in the tobacco. Commonly, people trying to quit smoking reduced the levels of nicotine slowly until they are just inhaling the vapour.
Dr Pawan Sharma said “All concentrations tested in the study represented the levels of nicotine found in chronic smokers.”
“What came out clearly was that the newer products were in no way less toxic to cells than conventional cigarettes or e-cigarette vaping,” Sharma said.
The researcher said the long-term impacts of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco were still unknown but damage to these two types of cells could destroy lung tissue.
“This leads to fatal diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and pneumonia, and can increase the risk of developing asthma, so we should not assume that these devices are a safer option,” Sharma said.
Sharma said he hoped this study would stimulate more research on heated tobacco devices and vaping – and he planned to continue this work by studying the effects of nicotine devices on more sophisticated models of lung tissue and in mice.
“If the current trend continues, tobacco use will cause more than eight million deaths annually by 2030 around the world,” noted Sharma.