E-Cigarette Use May Be More Harmful to Lungs Than Tobacco Smoking


by Vaping Daily Team

Updated: March 22, 2023

lungs on the hands

According to a recent study published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, e-cigarette smokers exhibit more lung inflammation than those who smoke tobacco. The study is the first to use PET imaging to compare vapers’ lungs versus smokers.

E-cigarettes have evolved from being mere smoking cessation tools. They have become a significant industry, with a global market value of US$24.6 billion in 2022, a drastic increase from US$1.7 billion in 2013. This surge in sales is due to increased usage beyond ex-smokers, with one in ten middle to high-school students in the US currently using e-cigarettes.

E-Cigarettes and Lung Inflammation: Study Uncovers Potential Long-Term Harm

A recent pilot study at the University of Pennsylvania found that e-cigarette users show more lung inflammation than those who smoke tobacco or non-smokers. Unlike previous studies that examined the effects of e-cigarettes on immune cells in vitro, this study utilized positron emission tomography (PET) imaging to examine the lungs of vapers, smokers, and non-smokers.

The researchers found that e-cigarette smokers exhibit significantly higher levels of an enzyme called inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in their lungs compared to non-smokers and those who smoke regular cigarettes.

While the study has limitations due to its small sample size, it highlights the potential long-term harm of e-cigarette smoking. The findings suggest that e-cigarette use may cause lung inflammation, which is even higher than for tobacco cigarette smokers. Thus, it is important to consider the cost-benefit analysis of e-cigarette use, as some treatments given to cancer patients cause harm to healthy parts of the body while helping fight cancer. E-cigarettes may cause harm but could still be recommended for the right people and the right reasons, such as helping people quit smoking tobacco. However, quitting nicotine altogether should be the ultimate goal to ensure long-term health. Further research is needed to replicate these findings and provide more robust statistics.

The Complex Issue of Using E-Cigarettes for Long-Term Health

The utility of e-cigarettes is a complex issue as the cost-benefit analysis must be considered. Some cancer treatments have side effects that harm healthy parts of the body while fighting cancer, and similarly, e-cigarettes may cause harm but can still be recommended for the right people and reasons.

Helping people quit smoking tobacco is one such reason, as the rates of smoking-related diseases like COPD and cancer are lower in e-cigarette users compared to tobacco smokers. Thus, using e-cigarettes to quit smoking is a good first step, but it should not be the last step for smokers as the long-term effects of e-cigarettes are unknown. To ensure long-term health, the ultimate goal should be to quit nicotine altogether. Therefore, it is important to weigh the potential risks and benefits of e-cigarette use and consider the long-term harm it may cause.

E-Cigarettes as a Smoking Cessation Tool: A Good First Step, but Not the Last

In conclusion, e-cigarettes can be a good smoking cessation tool for some individuals. While they are not without potential risks, studies have shown that e-cigarettes can be effective in helping some smokers quit or reduce their tobacco use.

Additionally, e-cigarettes may have lower rates of diseases like COPD and cancer compared to tobacco cigarettes. However, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional and carefully consider the potential advantages and disadvantages of using e-cigarettes as a means to quit smoking.

Published: March 23, 2023

Vaping Daily Team

The Vaping Daily team is a collective of expert vapers. We tried hundreds of vapes and happily review them here. Our guides, reviews, and top lists share the best practices from our experience . Subscribe to e-mails to get vape news and deals.