Debunking the fearmongering: Research shows secondhand e-cig vapor is 99% less carcinogenic

CNN is at it again, this time intentionally spreading dangerous misinformation that strongly implies secondhand e-cigarette vapor is equally as harmful to public health as smoking.  The controversial news organization is largely responsible for blaming a surge of mysterious lung disorders occurring in Wisconsin and Illinois directly to vaping.  However, the data now overwhelming indicates that the teen vapers were likely ingesting Black Market or THC-enhanced products which remain unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

In its latest fearmongering campaign, CNN is once again referencing an unsubstantiated white paper on the topic of secondhand vapor without verifying the underlying evidence, if it even exists.  This sort of “copy and paste” journalism is severely detrimental to public health as it ignores key scientific data which clearly indicates that e-cig vapor is 99 percent less toxic than the smoke derived from combustible tobacco products.

Is CNN complicit in potentially driving millions of adult smokers back into the loving arms of Big Tobacco?

The latest debate over secondhand smoke versus vapor is being driven by a recent paper posted last week in the medical journal JAMA Network.  According to the CNN report, one in four middle and high school students are reporting exposure to secondhand vaping aerosols.  The article also states that “about half of students reported secondhand (combustible tobacco) smoke exposure,” but according to CNN, this statistic gets a free pass because “that prevalence has been following a downward trend.”

Related Article:  Siegel: CDC ‘unnecessarily vague’ about THC role in vaping-linked lung ailments

So, to clarify:  About 25 percent of school-age teens are being exposed to e-cig vapor – which is 99 percent less carcinogenic than smoking- but over 50 percent of the same kids are being regularly exposed to highly carcinogenic cigarette smoke.  But the latter is really No Big Deal? 

Vaping study comparing secondhand vapor versus smoke

Well over two years ago in April 2017, a group of European scientists published an extensive study entitled Comparing the cancer potencies of emissions from vapourised nicotine products including e-cigarettes with those of tobacco smoke.  The study remains published in BMJ Tobacco Control – a medical journal devoted specifically to tobacco harm reduction and scientific research.  Led by Dr. William Stephens of the UK’s University of St. Andrews, the co-authors compare the secondhand toxicities of three products:  E-cig vapor, conventional cigarette smoke, and Heat-not-Burn (H-n-B) technologies.

The scientists began by determining that the approximate aerosol volume produced by a 15-cigarette per day smoker is about 30 liters.  Using three different sterilized chambers made of glass, the researchers then pumped 30-liters of e-cig vapor, tobacco smoke, and H-n-B smoke into separate chambers to avoid any possibility of cross contamination.  The researchers then collected, evaluated, and compared corresponding levels of toxicities  based on “the numbers of individual chemicals that exceed a specified threshold of safety” for kids. 

Related Article:  NZ public health expert on vaping death reports: ‘What's going on in the US?’

In the end, e-cigarette vapor was found to be the least toxic followed by H-n-B technologies and finally cigarette smoke.  E-cig vapor was even found to be 99 percent less toxic than combustible tobacco smoke and about 90 percent less toxic than the H-n-B smoke.        

“Most e-cigarette analyses indicate cancer potencies <1% that of tobacco smoke and <10% that of a heat-not-burn prototype, although a minority of analyses indicate higher potencies.”
“The conclusions of this study refer only to the chemical risks of cancer and do not account for any other carcinogenic effects such as those attributable to small particle sizes. There is some evidence that the large differentials found here between the cancer potencies of most ECs and those of tobacco smoke may be less for other medical conditions involving the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Future research should address these gaps.”

The 99 percent gap in toxicities only further confirms similar documentation dating back to 2015 – four years ago - by the UK’s Public Health England which indicates that firsthand vaping is about 95 percent less harmful than smoking.  The 2015 research is extremely well-known among both the pro-vaping and anti-vaping communities.  Yet, CNN once again fails to even mention its very existence. 

Related Article:  Public health expert says ‘bogus’ outrage over vaping is ‘literally killing people’

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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