E-cigarettes have been marketed as being safer than smoking tobacco but that doesn’t mean that they’re safe.
A multi-university study published in June in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine reports that vaping – smoking e-cigarettes – dries out the airways in the lungs, making it harder for smokers to clear mucus from the passages. Vaping also dries the mucus itself, making it stickier and harder to get rid of.
When mucus can’t be cleared, the lungs are more susceptible to infection or damage.
In fact, this condition of “mucociliary dysfunction” is a common symptom in cases of asthma, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary disease. The report notes that teens who vape have been shown to have a higher incidence of chronic bronchitis.
The study was done in culture dishes and in sheep, which have lungs that respond to e-cigarette vapor in similar biochemical ways to human lungs.
The only safe cigarette is the one that no one smokes. The public health campaigns that slashed tobacco use among adults will be revived and tweaked to address the dramatic rise of vaping, especially among first-time teen smokers.