Electronic cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking but are not risk-free, finds study.

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Photo: Vaperesso

Electronic cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking but are not risk-free, a report from the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) has concluded.

COT, which is made up of independent experts, was commissioned to produce a report by the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England to review electronic nicotine delivery systems and devices that use an e-liquid that does not contain any nicotine, collectively abbreviated as E(N)NDS.

The review finds that E(N)NDS products, when produced and used appropriately, are “likely to be associated with a reduction in overall risk of adverse health effects, although the magnitude of the decrease will depend on the effect in question” when replacing cigarettes.

COT also examined the role of potential toxicity in vaping aerosols. The review again found that the “use of E(N)NDS products may be associated with a reduced risk compared with (conventional cigarettes), but this should not be taken as meaning that these products are risk-free.”

The review highlighted best practices in manufacturing and production as the way to minimize risks. COT states that “fidelity of construction, materials used, and operating capabilities” are vital considerations for devices, while for e-liquids “formulants should be derived from a reputable source, and non-standard constituents should not be included.”

The COT review also touched upon incidents of lung injury seen in the United States, confirming vitamin E acetate as “strongly linked” to the cases. COT further notes that “this substance is banned from U.K.-regulated nicotine vaping products.”

John Dunne, director of the UKVIA
John Dunne

“Our assessment on e-cigarettes largely reinforces the scientific consensus to date on their relative safety, that while not without risk they are significantly less harmful than smoking,” said COT chair, Alan Boobis.

The vapor industry welcomed the COT’s recent publication.

“We welcome this review, as we do all contributions to the growing vaping literature, as it helps us better understand the harm reduction and public health potential of vaping,” said UKVIA director John Dunne in a statement. ““The UKVIA is heartened to see that COT confirms a likely overall risk reduction for those moving from cigarettes to vaping, as this is a cornerstone of our mission.”

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