A new study in the journal Addiction addresses the importance of measuring the chemical composition of e-cigarette vapor under realistic conditions. The study disproves an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine that boldly reports the risk of of vaping is up to 15 times higher than the risk associated with long-term smoking. The true manner in which e-cigarettes are used was not taken into account, making the study somewhere between incomplete and an outright lie.
The media caught wind of the above statistics and sensationalized the findings. The bombardment of this misinformation caused fear in the public and vindication for opponents of e-cigarettes. However, scientists with an understanding of electronic cigarettes and real usage conditions were appalled by the outlandish claim that vaping increases the lifetime risk of cancer.
“Dry puff” conditions occur when e-liquid is overheated, creating a burnt flavor. While the NEJM conducted their study under these conditions, no user would ever continue to vape at settings where this occurs.
Frustrated by the lack of knowledge of dry puff conditions, Dr. Farsalinos and his team sought out to conduct a fair and truthful study evaluating levels of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acetone and acrolein in e-cigarette vapor, specifically reporting differences between normal and dry puff conditions.
Through his study of real-world vaping conditions Dr. Farsalinos explains, “Our results verify previous observations that it is possible for e-cigarettes to generate high levels of aldehydes; however, this is observed only under dry puff conditions, which deliver a strong unpleasant taste that vapers detect and avoid, by reducing power levels and puff duration or by increasing inter-puff interval. Minimal amounts of aldehydes are released in normal vaping conditions, even if high power levels are used. In those normal-use conditions, aldehyde emissions are far lower than in tobacco cigarette smoke.”
This study reiterates the need for comprehensive understanding of the actual conditions under which electronic cigarettes are used. Scientific studies are always needed, but as is the case of the NEJM study, data accrued under unrealistic settings can be very damaging.
For information on the methods and specific findings of this study please visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.12942/abstract