back to article Vapists rejoice! E-cigs lower cancer risk (if you stop smoking, duh)

The first long-term, real-world study on carcinogens in e-cigarettes has found that they are significantly safer than smoking. The study by UCL's tobacco research group found that smokers who switched to e-cigarettes had significantly lower levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) …

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Aussie smokers are in for a rough ride.

Australia plans to keep increasing the price of a pack until they're AUD$40 (£24).

So either you quit, or move on to vaping, or buy on the black market, or you've definitely got more money than sense.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-38733502

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aussie smokers are in for a rough ride.

Look at a very broad picture of smoking over the last few decades, not just Aus but most countries.

They spent years advertising smoking, they cover up the negative effects and promote the status/image enhancing side of it, they get you hooked, they keep you coming back for more, then the price goes up so most normal people can barely afford it, they then kick your ass if you try to move on to something else and despite all the 'helpful' advice they give you, deep down they aint happy if you try to get away from it.

But going through the same process on the street corner with something more illegal is a bad thing and must be stopped at all costs. Tell me, how is it any different to dealing drugs?

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Re: Aussie smokers are in for a rough ride.

If you're in America or have access to a VPN service in the US then this is certainly worth a watch. Aired in 2014 but the situation hasn't changed much since:

VICE on HBO Season One: Addiction (Episode 7) (YouTube)

A Vice reporter goes to Indonesia where they think that smoking doesn't cause cancer but in fact cures it, and there's no legislation against tobacco advertising. The culture of smoking there is so open and lax that children start smoking at age 6...!

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Stop

Re: Aussie smokers are in for a rough ride.

Vaping's not an option, e-cigs are banned in Australia. It's in TFA, like.

Man, Australia sucks balls.

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Facepalm

Australia

... reaffirmed its ban on e-cig products, on the basis that ... a packet of cigs costs $40 there, most of which is tax?

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"significantly lower levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines" due to stopping using tobacco based fire sticks and going to a chemical cocktail with unknown long term health concerns.

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Stop

or short term quitting aid

I switched from fags to vaping for one year & then quit vaping. I had tried just stopping several times, also patches, and this weird NHS inhaler.

Yet it was the evil vapouriser in the end, enough like smoking to satisfy (to an extent) the craving but different enough to break the habits.

I haven't smoked (or vaped) for 3 years now.

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Maybe they should use the devices that exist for vaping "other herbs"? They could just vape tobacco leaf then, no need for a manufactured fluid. Admittedly that doesn't give us data regarding long term use but surely, as it only uses the plant, there's less risk of introducing a new bad chemical?

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Re: or short term quitting aid

Well done .

I suspect you're in a minority though... a friend of mine observed that there seem to be many more people 'vaping' than we ever saw smoking.

I also think that a lot of people have made the switch because the price of fags is going through the roof.

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> "Maybe they should use the devices that exist for vaping "other herbs"?"

They could, but it's not very convenient like liquid vaping is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: or short term quitting aid

I have friends who observe things too.

My first-person experience of vaping over the last seven years is this - I have the pleasure of working day in day out at many different large companies in a general quad between Birmingham, Norwich, Maidstone, Bristol and I rotate around them, never spend more than two days at each one. (31 companies currently, was 26 in 2009).

Each and every one of them does not allow vaping inside their buildings.

Six of them do not allow smoking or vaping on site (meaning people, including myself, stand on public space 1 inch away from the property boundary). The rest provide an area on-site like a bench, a 'bus stop' or in one case a (legally compliant) covered area with a bunch of sofas and a garden heater. (What is available seems to be completely proportional to how many senoir management smoke).

At time goes by there are more vapers, less smokers.

Almost but not quite all of them are people who used to smoke or are new to the companies, but very rarely do I come across someone who didnt smoke before but thought vaping would be a good thing to try. For those that have done so, sometimes I don't see them for months at a time because they seem to stop and start at will. This supports one theory that nicotine is not as addictive on its own as we are told, but it's the 1.5k other chemicals in a cigarette that potentiate it. That's a whole theory on its own and there is plenty of reading on that subject elsewhere. I can only report that this is what I hgave witnessed.

The subject of how many people we see vaping is one of the many things discussed in these areas. Most smokers and vapers I have spoken to seem to think that smoking is not noticed much because cigarettes have been normalised for many years and most traditional cigs are one of three general shapes which the mind just ignores, so people just dont notice it. But with vaping each device looks different so the brain takes more notice of it. That's all I believe it is.

But on average, in every single one of them there are no more or less people present in the smoking area than there were years ago when vaping was a new thing.

I don't recall ever having a conversation with people about how they use their cigarettes, where they get them from, the best way to hold them / light them etc, but with vapers it's all we talk about out there now. What batteries / flavour etc, where to get juices from, build or buy coils / how to wick etc. It's all part of the social aspect of vaping, the smoking areas have turned into a kind of vaping club rather than a bunch of smelly miserable souls staring at the ground.

Even if vaping did have the same health concerns as smoking, surely something that makes people more socially interactive is a good thing? It seems to work in my experience.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: or short term quitting aid

a friend of mine observed that there seem to be many more people 'vaping' than we ever saw smoking.

Fucking scientific that is... tell us what the bloke down the pub said though, so we get the full picture!

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"a chemical cocktail with unknown long term health concerns."

You do realize that that phrase includes every consumable not yet regularly consumed by a significant proportion of the populace, right?

Here is a short list of things which at one point were "a chemical cocktail with unknown long term health concerns."

Apples

Oranges

Milk

Cheese

Beer

Cider

Steaks

Chicken Vindaloo

People

The real irony, of course, is your posting this knee-jerk reaction to an article about a study intended to identify potential health concerns of these "chemical cocktails."

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Mushroom

Re: "a chemical cocktail with unknown long term health concerns."

You can add my wife's cooking to that list.

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WTF?

Smoking versus vaping

"significantly lower levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines" due to stopping using tobacco based fire sticks and going to a chemical cocktail with unknown long term health concerns.

Cigarettes are known to kill about 50% of regular smokers. The hypothetical unknown long term health effects would have to kill more than half of users to be worse than cigarettes.

Given that the "chemical cocktail" is an engineered cocktail of simple chemicals with few decomposition products, chosen with a view to safety, rather than the random assemblage of very complex chemicals present in plant leaves, is that likely?

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Re: or short term quitting aid

"a friend of mine observed that there seem to be many more people 'vaping' than we ever saw smoking."

You're kidding, aren't you? Really? Or maybe you are simply in that "golden" age range where vaping had not yet caught on and smoking was alreadty ostracised.

My wife is currently watching old episodes of Whodunnit, a murder mystery panel show from the 70's and it's not unusual to see the panellist smoking while making the show. Prior to the ban on indoor smoking, you couldn't walk into a pub without see a load of smokers. You even see smokers on some of the old live TV studio footage discussing the manned moon missions.

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Re: "a chemical cocktail with unknown long term health concerns."

I did my honours year in a toxicology lab. The list of foods containing toxins was quite extensive including such horrors as apples, tea, mustard, toast and oxygen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: or short term quitting aid

"The subject of how many people we see vaping is one of the many things discussed in these areas."

I'd suggest part of the difference may simply be down to the difference in how people smoke v vape. When smoking you effectively on the clock, straights will keep burning so if you don't actively smoke them they'll burn down on their own, and rollies will keep going out. So if you're a smoker having perhaps one every 30 to 60 minutes you'll probably be actively smoking it for around 5 minutes, the rest of the time there's no fag for people to see.

Vaping however doesn't have that same time restriction, so for instance when walking 25 minutes to and from work I'll generally be vaping the entire time... however I'll be doing it far less frequently, perhaps only having a drag every couple of minutes.

The upshot being that on a single walk to work I potentially walk past 5 times as many people with an ecig in my hand than I used to do with a fag, which potentially squews how people perceive fav v vape usage.

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Re: or short term quitting aid

Re numbers vaping it could just be the seem to be so obvious.

Saw a car and thought it was on fire with all the "smoke" coming out, just some guy vaping.

Is it you draw attention to the user but you often see people enveloped in a cloud of mist using them?

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Anonymous Coward

After 100 years of studies we know the chemicals that cause cancer in smoking and many of the effects. We don't have the long term data for vaping. So it may well be that although there are less of the traditional cancer causing agents that you may find in a cigarette there may be new harmful agents that will not be realised until many years in the future (similarly there might not).

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The idea is to quit

IF you use them to help you quit there are no long term effects. If you do use them long term it's quite hard to see how much worse they can be than...

COPD

Lung Cancer

Throat Cancer

impotence

Inability to exercise

Skin problems.

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Anonymous Coward

Longer term

For existing / ex smokers it's a simple enough equation, smoke something that will kill you, or vape something that MIGHT harm / kill you. After 18 years smoking and now 2 years vaping instead I know I feel far far better in myself in terms of my health, but I don't discount the possibility that it could also be doing me harm in the long term, but it's a calculated risk, choosing the possible rather than the definite. Of course long term I hope to wean myself off vaping as well!

Non-smokers taking up vaping though are idiots, but then is it any worse or stupid than non-smokers starting to smoke? One thing I wonder is of those who do go straight to vaping, how many go with nicotine ones and how many simply vape non-nicotine liquids thus avoiding addiction, especially when the latter are so much easier to purchase (amazon for instance only sells nicotine free liquid).

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I'd say it's actually the opposite. The stuff sold for vaping generally contains known compounds, most if not all of which will be chemically stable under the conditions they are exposed to (evaporation), compared to the cocktail of combustion products generated from burning tobacco, paper, and various treatment agents and pesticides, which will mostly be chemically unstable reactive species such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides which are very definitely harmful.

From a given vaping 'mix', it would be trivially easy to pass the products through a gas chromatograph / mas spectrometer and isolate and identify all the compounds in it. Since cigarettes will vary from one cigarette to another, and the combustion products will vary from drag to drag depending on how hard the smoker inhales, and how far down the cigarette they have smoked (not to mention inhaling gas/petrol fumes from their lighter when they light the thing), it is similarly impossible to characterise all the chemicals breathed in from smoking a cigarette.

Now, I'm not saying that vaping is good for you, but to say it is going to be anywhere close to as harmful as smoking burning shredded chemically treated leaves wrapped up in paper is total nonsense.

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Re: The idea is to quit

I forgot to add heart disease & gum disease, stained teeth, stinking clothes.

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Anonymous Coward

> After 100 years of studies we know the chemicals that cause cancer in smoking and many of the effects.

Interestingly this isn't the case. Tobacco smoke is such a complex soup of chemicals that we have very little idea what is doing what.

By comparison, VG and PG are relatively well understood having been used in the food industry forever. A question remains about how safe they are to inhale, but most people in the field seem to go with the idea that it's a damn sight safer than tobacco smoke...

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A question remains about how safe they are to inhale

I'd hazard a guess that PG is definitely safe to inhale seeing as UK hospitals have been pumping it through their air vents for the best part of a decade as an MRSA suppressant.

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What's needed is regulation of the vaping liquid content to control nicotine levels and other chemicals. ATM most liquid contains chemicals who's behavior is well known.

The idea that vaping is going to be a bad or even worse as smoking is just stupid and flies in the face of any sense.

People who use the precautionary principle should first use it on their idea to use the precautionary principle.

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>After 100 years of studies

Erm no, the products of vaping have been reasonably well characterised. Obviously you haven't been in a modern analytical lab, it's not like the 1940s. The biggest threat is from FUD spread by tobacco companies to keep you on their extremely lethal products.

I'm not saying anybody should take vaping up if they don't already smoke as they'd be insane to enslave themselves to nicotine but it's a much preferable alternative for those already enslaved than inhaling a burning bonfire, remember vaping is not combustion.

If you are really worried about the effects of combustion and fumes on your health you'd be better off avoid being in a vehicle during a traffic jam or being a cyclist on a busy road. Real nasties come out of exhaust pipes in large quantities, 1,3-Butadiene particularly so and don't forget the insoluble micro particles.

To those that say you should give up nicotine entirely who have never indulged then I challenge you to chew nicotine gum every day for a year then give it up, you'll have some sympathy for those in Trainspotting.

There's an old saying, an ex-smoker is just a smoker who doesn't smoke anymore, very true.

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FAIL

Actually, we know that by far and away the most damaging substance in tobacco smoke is carbon monoxide. Which is totally absent from e-cig vapour.

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Nicotine produces the highest dependency score among common drugs, so one could argue that it is the most damaging, in an indirect way. It's also a natural pesticide, ick.

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Anonymous Coward

The world is full of teh scary chemicals.

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Caffeine is also a natural pesticide (and herbicide) - I dare you to stop drinking coffee/Red Bull/Diet Coke.

The aspartame in your Diet Coke is waaaay worse than nicotine.

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> "I dare you to stop drinking coffee/Red Bull/Diet Coke."

That's just crazy talk.

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Re: Longer term

I've got a similar habit/history to you, and completely agree with the desired trajectory i.e. stopping the vaping too.

Re non-smokers taking up vaping, could it be a hipster/fashion thing, where they're just on non-nicotine liquids? Again this is just one bloke's observations, but I see a lot of young guys with beards, top-knots, wearing no socks blowing enough "smoke" to make me wonder whether to call the fire brigade.

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"The aspartame in your Diet Coke is waaaay worse than nicotine"

This is pretty much complete rubbish.

There's a nice long article on the NHS website with links to all the studies if you can be bothered to look.

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Anonymous Coward

My comment about the fact there wasn't the same long term data available for vaping was not meant to be a comparison to smoking itself and say smoking may be safer than vaping. It was to not discount that there may (or may not) also be long term issues with vaping that are yet to be realised. For some vaping seems to have become a lifestyle rather than just an aid to quitting and some of that may be in the fact that it is deemed perfectly safe (which it may well be). However it was felt that asbestos -the wonder material - was safe and it was easy to see that the material had no harmful effects. Except, as we all know, once inhaled it could cause all sorts of nasty problems 20 years down the line.

I wasn't posting as a pro/against vaping, just a comment on the story and the fact they were comparing the chemicals and reactions in vaping to known chemicals and effects in smoking and it wasn't yet a long term study into different effects that vaping may have. If I knew a family member or friend and they were a heavy smoker and they decided to use a vaping product instead, I would be delighted. However, I would be even more positive if they slowly cut down vaping until they were happy without the need to vape either.

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The aspartame in your Diet Coke is waaaay worse than nicotine.

Not really.

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>Nicotine produces the highest dependency score among common drugs, so one could argue that it is the most damaging, in an indirect way.

I'll hazard a guess that however this dependency score was arrived at, it involved study of smoking tobacco. There's recent research that suggests that nicotine by itself is far less addictive than other compounds found in burnt tobacco. (Sorry no citation, but you didn't give one either so yar boo sucks.)

Anecdotally, I've found I don't "crave" a vape in the way I very definitely used to go spare when denied the chance of a gasper.

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I stand corrected

I had not caught up on the acquittal of aspartame. Thanks for letting me know.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Longer term

@ac

"smoke something that will kill you"

You seem to have been corrupted by the anti-smoking propaganda.

"Smoking 'may' kill you" or "smoking 'may' increase your risk of death" is the correct statement.

In case you were unaware, most people do NOT die from smoking related illnesses. The fact that some people die who may smoke, does not necessarily mean that their death was caused by smoking, no matter what ASH might try to tell you.

Not to say you shouldn't stop, though. I gave up in 2000 after 60 odd years of smoking. Apart from the mounting cost, on balance it seemed like a good idea.

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Unknown health concerns vs

Known health benefits of switching to vaping? It is a good thing to switch people from known hazards to safer alternatives even if the alternatives carries some "unknown" risk. Simple cost benefit analysis applies. Precautionary principle need not apply when the known benefits are so much better (the unknown negative effects would have to be pretty damn damaging to beat the known negative effects of smoking).

So keep vaping you ex-smokers!

[disclaimer] I do not smoke or vape [/disclaimer]

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Re: Unknown health concerns vs

I would love to see cost-benefit analysis beat out the precautionary principle. Too bad it is so much easier to just knee-jerk and say "It might be bad - Don't do it!" than it is to actually asses risk and balance it against benefits.

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Re: Unknown health concerns vs

Public Health England (government body) did such a study and concluded that:

* The current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking

* Nearly half the population (44.8%) don’t realise e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking

* There is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers

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Re: Unknown health concerns vs

Public Health England (government body) did such a study and concluded that:

* The current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking

* Nearly half the population (44.8%) don’t realise e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking

* There is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers"

...and yet every Govt. building I've been in over the last couple of years explicitly bans the use of e-cigarettes with no explanation as to why. And that 95% less harmful stat? Scientists, especially Government employed ones, are usually quite conservative with numbers like that.

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Many of the people I know use it as a substitute for fag. They have no desire to quit and switched when they could use the things in the office, pub, and restaurant.

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Downvotes

There are definitely a few heartfelt smokers/vapers here, who don't like the comments that say that "removing burning tobacco removes burnt tobacco by products from your system" is obvious.

While it it certainly more agreeable than than tobacco smoke, I don't want vapors breathing out over me with heavilly scented air (if the scents come out with their breath, what other chemicals are coming out too) any more than I would want to smell their bad breath or the exhaust of their cars...

While I'm all for people stopping smoking, and they should get whatever aids they want/need to do so, vaping seems to be being popularised. It's an aid to stop smoking, and shouldn't be touted as anything 'hip' any-moreso than a crutch helps you recover from a broken leg. I do think they should be availiable.

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Re: Downvotes

While it it certainly more agreeable than than tobacco smoke, I don't want vapors breathing out over me with heavilly scented air (if the scents come out with their breath, what other chemicals are coming out too) any more than I would want to smell their bad breath or the exhaust of their cars...

Try and think of it like this. Vapers produce less fumes and smells than a car, but you aren't upset about someone sitting in their car. Vaping doesn't produce harmful fumes, so your opinion on it is really irrelevant.

While I'm all for people stopping smoking, and they should get whatever aids they want/need to do so, vaping seems to be being popularised. It's an aid to stop smoking, and shouldn't be touted as anything 'hip' any-moreso than a crutch helps you recover from a broken leg. I do think they should be availiable.

Two things:

1) Some people do use vaping as an aid to quit smoking, but most simply switch to vaping as a replacement for smoking. Why?

a) Quitting nicotine is extremely difficult. You have no idea.

b) Smokers enjoy the effects and social interaction of using nicotine

c) Its a lot cheaper than smoking

d) Vaping is non harmful. If there is any harm, it is minuscule compared to smoking.

It is "trendy" because more and more people realise that whilst quitting is beyond them, switching to vaping is not, and leads to a higher quality of life.

2) This isn't a dictatorship - we are free to do anything that we want that isn't proscribed - why should we change our behaviour so that your oral nicotine morality is satisfied?

Personally, I've tried quitting smoking and failed. I've tried switching to vaping and have had zero problems sticking to it. My health has improved markedly; I would probably have died already without vaping.

I value being alive a lot more than I do care about your moral opinions on nicotine.

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Anonymous Coward

No big surprise with either vaping or NRT exclusive use highly reducing tobacco-related carcinogens.

But it's quite interesting to note that the study found one significant difference between the two, which was not mentioned in the article: vaping exposes to even lower levels of a specific carcinogen than NRT.

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Boffin

This is all about carcinogen levels

If you compare smoking tobacco with snus tobacco (a sort of mini-teabag containing ground tobacco that you stick in your mouth and suck), a marked difference is seen. Snus users have no increased risk of cancer over that of the general population, whereas smokers have a marked increase in cancer levels.

This strongly suggests that nicotine in therapeutic doses isn't carcinogenic, but inhaling smoke from burning leaves very definitely is carcinogenic. This connection is also seen with the effects of breathing diesel smoke; it is the combustion products and particulates that do the damage, not the nicotine.

E-cigs are not combustion devices. What they do is take a mixture of propylene glycol (a permitted food thickener which is known to be non-carcinogenic and safe), water, some known-safe flavourings and a very low level of nicotine and pass it over a heating element, which causes it to vaporise then immediately re-condense into a fog of fine droplets. E-cigs never actually combust anything, and thus don't chemically transform the chemicals that are in them.

So, if e-cig juice is safe before vaporising, it is safe afterwards.

The quoted study merely shows that of the four groups compared, all were ingesting more or less the same amount of nicotine, but the levels of tobacco combustion products were more or less the same in all groups that smoked tobacco, but much lower in the e-cig only group.

The study is thus interesting on two levels. Firstly, e-cig use dramatically lowers levels of smoking-related carcinogens, leading to the conclusion that these are NOT present in e-cig vapour.

Secondly, carcinogen levels were largely similar in all groups who smoked tobacco, regardless of whether they were using nicotine patches as well, or e-cigs as well, or just smoking alone. That suggests that it is only the replacement of smoking with e-cigs that is a useful health measure, not the supplementation of smokes plus something else.

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Re: This is all about carcinogen levels

(I was a long term smoker of 'strong' cigarettes and am now nine months into a 'vaping only' regime and have got down to 1mg strength liquid from an original 24mg strength.)

The e-cig vaping liquid is in fact a mixture of propylene glycol and glycerin, in various ratios depending on the 'feel' preferred by the user. It also, of course, contains a small amount of nicotine.

It's been accepted for a long time that nicotine, as ingested by smokers or in any other therapeutic dose, is not carcinogenic.

I'm surprised that you say that snus use does not lead to an increase in cancer. I'm sure that I've read that snus use is associated with cancers of the soft tissue of the mouth. Also, I believe there is a difference between the 'mini-teabag of tobacco' and 'snus', where snus is in the form of a paste that is rubbed onto the inner cheek or gums. I may have got those two totally mixed up since I've never had any interest in either of them. However, I'm prepared to believe they have equivalent risk if you consider how they work.

Propylene glycol and glycerin are indeed permitted food additives but they have not been 'officially approved' for vaporisation and inhaling. You can't say that because they are safe for one then they are safe for the other. However, I'm prepared to believe that they are nowhere near as dangerous, for inhaling, as tobacco smoke.

I have extensive experience of both inhaling tobacco smoke and inhaling e-cig vapour and I can tell you that after nine months of heavy vaping, I feel a heck of a lot better and don't get out of breath easily nowadays. Actually, I ought to stop now since it's become just a behavioural and psychological habit that doesn't provide me with any definite sense of physical relief. (When I was using 24mg liquid, I really needed it. Now, I can go all day without if I forget my kit when I leave home.)

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