A recent Chinese study, released in conjunction with other related studies, essentially claim that e-cigarettes are worse for a person than natural, non-additive tobacco. The reason the word “claim” is used here, is simply because the actual studies done by Baptist University have not been released yet, and as of now, this stands as a media report coming solely from Chinese scientists, which remains slightly ambiguous.
However, taking the reports at face value, the scientists concluded that e-vapor is literally one million times more polluted than smog air like that of Hong Kong, and this calculation was made by the measurement of PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), a by-product of burning petroleum measured in nanograms per milliliter in both the vapor and the smog air. The statement is accredited to Dr Chung Shan-shan, assistant professor in the Baptist University’s biology department, and without the released methodology, the comparison remains unelaborated.
To take an excerpt from an article written on Ecigarette-Research.org,
“The average volume of air breathed daily by humans is 20m3 (=20,000,000 mLs). Contrary to that, an average vapers consumes 3mLs of liquid (according to our survey). Thus, the levels in outdoor air in Hong Kong would result in total daily exposure of 960 ng. The levels of exposure from e-cigarette liquids (as tested by the Hong Kong university and assuming they are correct) are 9-1500 ng. This is from 99% less up to 50% more than exposure to outdoor air (or, to express it differently, 100 times less to ½ time more). So, the statement 1,000,000 times higher levels’ is completely false.”
This article isn’t exactly trying to disprove how nasty nicotine vapor can be for you, but when a scientist makes bold claims like this, they should be prepared for heavy scrutiny even with the full release of their data. Comparisons aside though, even Ecigarette-Research.org was not able to show that these carcinogenic PAH’s are not heavily present in the product, and the study was reportedly conducted by analyzing thirteen random name-brand electronic cigarettes, so it seems to cast a wide net.
One of the other Chinese studies mentioned also point to the carcinogenic effects of the vapor flavors, and the long-term damage done by these things over time. South China Morning Post said of the matter,
“Diacetyl, a flavouring chemical linked to cases of severe respiratory disease, was found in more than 75 percent of flavoured electronic cigarettes and refill liquids tested by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Two other potentially harmful related compounds were also found in many of the tested flavours, which included varieties with potential appeal to young people such as Cotton Candy, Fruit Squirts, and Cupcake. For more than a decade, inhaling diacetyl has been linked with the debilitating respiratory disease bronchiolitis obliterans, colloquially termed ‘popcorn lung’ because it first appeared in workers who inhaled artificial butter flavour in microwave-popcorn processing facilities.”
To play the Devil’s Advocate here once more, a press release given by PHE (Public Health England) claimed they found e-cigarettes to be 95% less carcinogenic than tobacco. What it all boils down to here is how the data is being interpreted. Clearly, different researchers are using different methods to study this concept (not to mention, they are all clearly trying to prove different ideas) and because of this they are coming out with very different results.
It seems that what can be safely estimated here is that, if a person enjoys nicotine, they should either A) grow their own tobacco, B) moderately enjoy certified organic tobacco (preferably grown outside the US) or C) maybe chew some Nicorette gum or something. At this point, even if electronic cigarettes aren’t quite as bad as are claimed in China, basic deductive reasoning can show that coating one’s own lungs with artificial chemicals that are known carcinogens is literally the same thing as coating one’s own lungs with natural tar that also has carcinogens. In fact, one could even make an argument that, if the tar is inhaled moderately, that since it is natural anyway, the body will be able to more effectively cleanse itself of it.
While this article is not exactly suggesting that people should make an effort to smoke more cigarettes, a final comment will be that Anti-Tobacco propaganda is just as real as Tobacco Company propaganda. Before the European settlement of the Americas, the native people habitually smoked natural tobacco that was significantly stronger than anything sold in stores today, and on a cultural level there was, without question, no addiction to the substance. Nicotine may be physically dependent, but the physical is only correlated to the mind–it is not the mind itself. This means that addiction is a quality entirely separate (but that can be connected to) physical dependency. Nicotine has actually been demonstrated to have some notable cognitive enhancements while doing no damage itself–the damage comes from the tar in the plant, and the tobacco’s additives if it has any.
Lastly, it was a common superstition among the Native Americans that smoking tobacco helped “carry” or transmit one’s thoughts into the spirit realm, and while this might make no sense to some people, the true connoisseurs of good tobacco will surely smile at this type of idea.
Sources: http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health-beauty/article/1889273/flavouring-chemical-e-cigarettes-linked-severe-respiratory, http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health-beauty/article/1896743/more-evidence-e-cigarettes-may-be-bad-you-scientists-say, http://www.ecigarette-research.org/research/index.php/whats-new/whatsnew-2015/238-h-k