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Vaping poses far less health risks than smoking - Otago University

July 06, 2016

New Zealand's Otago University has concluded that the vaping poses far less health risks to user compared to smokers of tobacco.

The report has been published on the university's Public Health Expert blog website. The article studied biological markers in vapers/electronic cigarette users compared with those of tobacco smokers.

E-cigarettes (or vaporisers) are battery-powered devices that vaporise liquid nicotine (e-liquid) and are widely available in New Zealand. Experts consider them a useful way to quit or reduce smoking.

Sales of nicotine liquid are permitted in the UK, where Public Health England said last year that the best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95 per cent less harmful than smoking. Vaping devices are in fact subsidised as quit-smoking devices in the UK!

The Wellington based researchers for Otago University say bio-markers, such as certain components of urine and exhaled breath should be assessed to estimate the potential harm of e-cigarettes.

- Vapers are exposed almost zero carbon monoxide risk compared to that faced by smokers;

- The same is true for inflammatory markers of likely relevance to cardiovascular and respiratory disease; and

- Vapers' risks is 14-23 per cent that of smokers in most studies for cancer-related toxicants.

The Wellington researchers say it seems likely that if smokers shift entirely to vaping, their risk of chronic disease would be expected to decline.

The safest option for smokers using vaping to reduce their health risk would be to switch to vaping only, as soon as possible, and to aim to quit vaping too -- if possible without relapsing to smoking, "which represents the greater risk to health".