A new study funded by British American Tobacco adds to the growing body of work examining the health implications associated with electronic cigarette use. The purpose of this experiment (published in the journal Toxicology in Vitro) was to take a closer look at the way e-cigarette vapor affects human respiratory epithelial cells.
The study was conducted using MatTek Corporation EpiAirway models of human cells used in in vitro lab experiments. EpiAirway is a 3D airway tissue model produced from normal tracheal/bronchial epithelial cells. These cells were then exposed to cigarette smoke and two brands of e-cigarette vapor via VITROCELL smoking robot, an “aerosol smoking system”.
The results of this experiment show that cell viability decreases 12%- near complete cell death- after six hours of exposure to cigarette smoke. However, six hours of continuous exposure to e-cigarette vapor showed no significant decrease in cell viability. The impact on the airway tissue exposed to vapor were “similar to that of air”.
According to British American Tobacco spokesperson Dr. Marina Murphy, “By employing a combination of a smoking robot and a lab-based test using respiratory tissue, it was possible to demonstrate the ability to induce and measure aerosol irritancy and to show that the different e-cigarette aerosols used in this study have no cytotoxic effect on human airway tissue.”
Marina Trani, Head of Research and Development for British American Tobacco’s next generation nicotine products stated, “Currently there are no standards concerning the in vitro testing of e-cigarette aerosols. Our protocol could prove very useful in helping the process by which these guidelines might progress.”
Further studies are needed to test different e-cigarette models, but these results provide additional scientific evidence that vaping is safer than smoking.