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expert reaction to three conference papers on e-cigarettes

 These quotes refer to the following three abstracts from the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress conference:

Acute effects of active e-cigarette inhalation on arterial stiffness

Highest prevalence of respiratory symptoms among smokers who also use e-cigarettes

Evaluation of respiratory irritants among the most popular e-cigarette refill liquids across 9 European countries


Dr Tim Chico, Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine & consultant cardiologist, University of Sheffield, said:

“Electronic cigarettes are certain to have some health effects, and it is very important that non-smokers do not start using them erroneously thinking that they are harmless. However, the key question is whether they are as harmful as conventional cigarettes, and this seems very unlikely, particularly if they are used as a bridge to quitting all cigarettes completely. Although it is important to understand the effects of electronic cigarettes, this should not detract from the fact that smoking conventional cigarettes reduces life expectancy by ten years and causes chronic diseases that devastate quality of life.”


Prof. Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), said:

“All three findings are likely to be presented as generating concerns about vaping, but none provides a cause for alarm.

On the finding that respiratory symptoms were the same in smokers, non-smokers and vapers but higher in ‘dual users’:

“The most likely explanation is that heavier smokers are more likely to suffer from respiratory symptoms, and are also more likely to try to quit but fail to stop smoking completely. This could lead to heavy smokers with respiratory symptoms ending up in the dual users group.

On potential respiratory irritants in e-liquids:

“It is the dose that makes the poison. No information is provided on whether these chemicals are inhaled at levels that can cause harm, or how these levels compare with levels inhaled by smokers. Smokers who switch to vaping report significant improvements, e.g. in asthma, which suggests that such a switch reduces respiratory irritation and is beneficial for lung health.

On arterial stiffness:

“This is a well-known stimulant effect of nicotine that has little relevance for health. Drinking coffee has the same effect, only greater and longer lasting (as does watching a dramatic football match).”


*The European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress is the once-a-year occasion when the world’s respiratory experts meet to present and discuss the latest research on topics such as asthma, COPD, lung cancer, pollution and smoking.  


Declared interests

None to declare


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