No type of smoking is safe: cigarettes, heated tobacco, vaping all ’cause serious lung damage’


If you thought ditching regular smokes for an e-cig or heated tobacco device was a way to save your lungs, you’d be wrong.

That’s the message coming from a team of Australian researchers who say that any kind of smoking is ‘toxic’. It’s at odds with plenty of campaigners who say that vaping and heated tobacco devices are safer than traditional cigarettes.

But the scientists took a look at a ‘next generation’ heated tobacco device on sale globally and found it still damaged human lungs by changing their structure and creating an inflammatory response.

The researchers studied cigarettes, e-cigs and heated tobacco in the lab (SWNS.COM)

Dr Sukhwinder Sohal led the study from the University of Tasmania, which looked at cigarettes, e-cigarettes and the heated tobacco IQOS device made by tobacco giant Philip Morris International.

‘Our results suggest that all three are toxic to the cells of our lungs and that these new heated tobacco devices are as harmful as smoking traditional cigarettes.

‘Damage to these two types of lung cells can destroy lung tissue leading to fatal diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and pneumonia, and can increase the risk of developing asthma, including in unborn children.

‘So we should not assume that these devices are a safer option.’

Not a good alternative (Shutterstock)

While e-cigarettes and heated tobacco still contain nicotine (the addictive substance in ciggies) but it’s in liquid form and is heated into vapour. Which limits some of the damage caused by standard cigarette smoke and ash.

As part of the study, the team did lab tests on the effects of all three devices on epithelial cells (which line your organs) and smooth muscle cells taken from the human airways.

Cigarette smoke and heated tobacco were highly toxic while vaping induced a ‘cry for help’ inflammatory response.

Martin McKee, professor of European public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who was not involved in the research, said the study suggested a need for ‘considerable caution’ on heat-not-burn products, although their impact is not fully understood.

E-cigarettes produce vaporized nicotine (PA)

He said: ‘E-cigarettes are often presented as safer than cigarettes because they also deliver nicotine but contain no tar, the cause of lung cancer.

‘But they contain many things not found in conventional cigarettes.

‘We really have very little idea about the specific risks associated with e-cigarettes but the evidence that is emerging indicates that they are far from safe, with risks to the heart and lungs. This study adds to that body of evidence.’

Public Health England has urged smokers to use e-cigarettes, calling concerns over vaping ‘false fears’.

But the study, published in the journal ERJ Open Research, says both e-cigarettes and heated tobacco devices causes the same type of damage to cells seen in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis and emphysema who struggle to breathe.

Smoking tobacco will destroy your epithelial cells (Getty Images)

Professor Charlotta Pisinger is Chair of the European Respiratory Society’s Tobacco Control Committee and was not involved in the research.

She said: ‘These new heated tobacco devices are marketed as producing 95% lower levels of toxic compounds because the tobacco is heated, not burned. However, the first independent studies have shown that combustion is taking place and toxic and carcinogenic compounds are released, some in lower levels than in conventional cigarette smoke, others in higher levels.

‘A review of the tobacco industry’s own data on these devices has shown that, in rats, there is evidence of lung inflammation, and there is no evidence of improvement in lung inflammation and function in smokers who switch to heated tobacco.’

‘The introduction and vigorous marketing of new devices is very tempting to smokers who want to stop smoking and mistakenly believe they can switch to another harmless tobacco product.

‘It is also opening another avenue for attracting young people to use and become addicted to nicotine. This study adds to evidence that these new devices are not the safe substitute to cigarette smoking they are promoted to be.’





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