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Study shows cigarette smoke is 1500 times more toxic than e-cig vapor

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released their FDA deeming regulations in 2015, the agency reclassified e-cigs to the same category as combustible cigarettes. Even though both are now technically classified as “tobacco product”s by the FDA, the two could not be more different.

Firstly, while the e-liquids of electronic cigarettes are enhanced with small amounts of liquid nicotine, they are also 100% tobacco-free. This means that vapers are not exposed to the deadly tar and added chemicals that make traditional cigarettes so addictive.

Secondly, according to Cancer Research UK, vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. In the UK, many public health organizations even endorse vaping openly.

Thirdly – and perhaps the most important of all – a new study indicates that the smoke of tobacco cigarettes is 1500 times more toxic than the vapor from electronic vaping devices. This statistic even holds true when comparing secondhand cigarette smoke to secondhand e-cig vapor.

The Lorillard vaping study

One of the more interesting characteristics of this latest study is that it was conducted by researchers of the Lorillard Tobacco Company in Greensboro, North Carolina. Lorillard is one of Big Tobacco’s leading cigarette manufacturers of such well-known brands as Kool, Winston, and Salem.

Coincidentally, Lorillard is also the responsible for the Blu brand of disposable cigalikes. The study entitled Comparison of select analytes in aerosol from e-cigarettes with smoke from conventional cigarettes and with ambient air is readily available for review via the Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology website.

Co-authors Rana Tayyarah and Gerald Long began their research by conducting a series of air sampling tests comparing the vapor produced from two kinds of e-cigs (SkyCigs and Blu) to the secondhand smoke of two kinds of tobacco cigarettes (Marlboro Gold and Lambert & Butler). Each air sampling test was conducted in a separate laboratory to avoid possible cross contamination

As an experimental control, Tayyarah and Long also evaluated the toxicity levels of an empty room filled with every day “ambient” air. During the testing procedures, the scientists measured for the following toxins commonly associated with combustible tobacco smoke.

  • Carbon monoxide
  • Carbonyls
  • Phenolics
  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons
  • Polyaromatic amines
  • Tobacco-specific nitrosamines
  • Multiple Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  • Trace metals including:
    • Arsenic
    • Lead
    • Aluminum
    • Copper
    • Cadmium
    • Manganese
    • Iron
    • Nickel
    • Zinc

What the Lorillard researchers discovered is that the secondhand cigarette smoke was approximately 1500 times more toxic than the e-cig vapor across nearly every category. Furthermore, about 99 puffs of any one of the electronic cigarettes was required to produce even the smallest measurable amounts of toxicities in nearly every air sampling trail.

“The aerosol collected mass (ACM) of the e-cigarette samples was similar in composition to the e-liquids. Aerosol nicotine for the e-cigarette samples was 85% lower than nicotine yield for the conventional cigarettes. Analysis of the smoke from conventional cigarettes showed that the mainstream cigarette smoke delivered approximately 1500 times more harmful and potentially harmful constituents (HPHCs) tested when compared to e-cigarette aerosol or to puffing room air.“

Even though this vaping study was conducted by Big Tobacco scientists, its findings are corroborated by similar research conducted by researchers from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee. Led by Dr. Riccardo Polosa, the study entitled Trace Metals Derived from Electronic Cigarette (ECIG) Generated Aerosol: Potential Problem of ECIG Devices That Contain Nickel is published in Frontiers in Physiology and confirms that the levels of trace metals found in e-cig vapor are “negligible.”