Using a vapor cigarette and a conventional cigarette is just as harmful as smoking

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Combining e-cigarette use with conventional smoking would have health effects that are just as damaging as smoking cigarettes alone, according to a new scientific study.

The electronic cigarette is considered a real aid to quit smoking, as are patches or other nicotine substitutes. Unfortunately, while its virtues in helping you quit smoking are obvious, its health benefits need to be nuanced, at least when associated with tobacco. Published in the journal Circulation, a new study indicates that the association of e-cigarettes with tobacco would be at least as damaging to health as cigarette use alone.

Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health conducted an analysis of data on more than 7,100 American adults. Scientists have studied the effect of the combination of smoking and electronic cigarettes on inflammation and oxidative stress, which are key factors in the development of cardiovascular diseases (among others) induced by smoking. These factors are considered predictors of cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and heart failure.

A total of five biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress were analyzed from blood and urine samples. Participants were classified into four categories based on their smoking style over a 30-day period:

neither vaping nor conventional tobacco (58.6% of the participants);

exclusive vaping (2% of the sample);

exclusive smoking (30% of participants);

dual use of tobacco and electronic cigarettes (around 10% of the participants).

The analysis then revealed that "exclusive vapers" exhibited an inflammatory and oxidative stress profile similar to that of non-smokers, and lower than that of regular tobacco smokers. As expected, both e-cigarette smokers and habitual tobacco addicts had higher levels of inflammation and oxidative stress than non-smokers, on all measured biomarkers.

In contrast, the study found that combining regular tobacco with e-cigarettes led to levels of oxidative stress and inflammation comparable to those of people who only smoke regular cigarettes.

"I think this study is an important message for people who may think that using e-cigarettes while continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes reduces their risk. This commonly observed pattern of dual use was not associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers and is unlikely to delivers risk reduction in this specific area, "said Dr. Rose Marie Robertson, study co-author and member of the American Heart Association.

"Some smokers use e-cigarettes to reduce how often they smoke. They often become users of both products rather than completely switching from one to the other. If e-cigarettes are used as a means to quit smoking, the cigarette should be completely replaced and a process to dispose of all tobacco products should be recommended, "added study co-author Andrew Stokes.

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