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Vaping study shows ‘no acute cytotoxicity’ in e-cig vapor

Posted by Matt Rowland on


A vaping study comparing the in vitro cytotoxicity levels of e-cig vapor to that of combustible cigarettes suggests that e-cigarettes are as safe as breathing everyday air.  Scientists from the tissue engineering firm of MatTek in Ashland, Massachusetts, began their research by building a type of smoking robot. 

After acquiring their conventional cigarettes from an unbiased third-party, The University of Kentucky in Lexington, they then chose the two different brands of electronic cigarettes.  Used in the study were the NJOY Bold and the NJOY Menthol brands, with 4.5 percent and 3.0 percent nicotine concentrations respectively.   Meanwhile, the tobacco cigarettes were stored at room temperature in a humidity-controlled environment for 48-hours prior to the study’s commencement. 

The Toxicology in Vitro vaping study

During the vaping study, the scientist discovered that cells in vitro began to die after only six hours of consistent exposure to cigarette smoke.  However, even when comparable cells were exposed to massive dosages of e-cig vapor that far exceed those commonly associated with normal vaping practices, the measurable impacts were similar to those of everyday air.

 “This study demonstrates the applicability of physiologically relevant EpiAirway™ tissue used in combination with a VITROCELL® VC 01 exposure system for the assessment and comparison of cigarette smoke and e-cigarette aerosol. Despite being tested with a more intense puffing regime, e-cigarette aerosol showed no acute cytotoxicity in this study when compared with traditional 3R4F reference cigarette smoke.”

British American Tobacco partnered with MatTek in the vaping study’s design and implementation.  The study’s co-authors also indicate in the published paper that there were “no conflicts of interest” between the two organizations regarding the study’s results, which are immediately available for review in their entirety via Toxicology in Vitro.


The scientists also agree that more research is needed, since only two brands of e-cigs were used in the original vaping study.  However, the related data seemingly mirrors previously published research by the Public Health England claiming that vaping is 95 percent safer and healthier than smoking. 

“Furthermore, cytotoxicity appears to be unaffected by different e-cigarette formulations as tested in this study. Further studies will need to be conducted to compare between different commercially available products, formats, and formulations, but our data suggest that e-cigarette aerosols have significantly less impact than cigarette smoke over the duration of a 6 h exposure in vitro using organotypic tissue constructs.”

California State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) is refuting the study’s claims.  When asked to comment on the MatTek/BAT study, Leno reverted back to earlier claims by Big Tobacco regarding the alleged increased safety of cigarette filters. 

“Decades ago, the tobacco industry tried to fool us into believing that filtered cigarettes were a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, and now they’re making the same claims about e-cigarettes.” 

Coincidentally, Leno just happens to be from San Francisco, the very city that has recently moved to ban all flavored e-liquids and menthol cigarettes.  Oddly, sales of e-liquids that taste like tobacco will still be legal. 


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