Maybe you’re all about that Vape Lyfe or you’re just dabbling in e-cigarettes to help wean you off cigarettes. While vaping is better for overall health than traditional smoking — because at least you’re eliminating the tar, chemical additives and other carcinogens — the findings of a new report may give you reason to pause before you, uh, hit the pen.
The report, released Tuesday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, compiled and analyzed all the research we have thus far about the smoking alternative. The investigation was commissioned by the F.D.A. in 2016 after the agency began regulating the products.
Among the major findings, the panel determined that the nicotine contained in e-cigarettes can be addictive and that teen users who start vaping are more likely to develop a cigarette smoking habit. In 2016, almost twice as many teens vaped than smoked cigarettes.
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While the panel noted that e-cigs are safer than cigarettes and can help users quit smoking, they hesitated to call the devices safe because there are no long-term scientific studies about their health effects. They noted that any health benefits of e-cigs do not extend to users who both vape and smoke regular cigarettes.
“E-cigarettes cannot be simply categorized as either beneficial or harmful,” said committee-lead David Eaton of the University of Washington.
The committee recommended more research into the devices, which, depending on the brand, contain varying levels of chemicals and other toxins, in addition to nicotine, that could have long-term health implications.
“What the report demonstrates is that despite the popularity of e-cigarettes, little is known about their overall health effects, and there is wide variability from product to product,” Matthew L. Myers, President of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told the NYTimes. “That makes the case even stronger for F.D.A. regulation. This report makes very real the concern that e-cigarettes may well increase the use of combustive tobacco products.’’
Based on what we know at this point, the long-term effects of vaping are still too murky to be endorsed wholeheartedly as a substitute for tobacco cigarettes.