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In a new Nicotine and Tobacco Research study published by Oxford Academic on September 9th, 2018, researchers tracked biomarkers of exposure among dual users of traditional cigarettes and e-cigs. The Ontario experiment involved 48 adults users, and was completed over a seven day period; the results were in opposition to present day beliefs within the industry.

The Nicotine and Tobacco Research study was set up as a non-blinded within-subjects cross-over experiment. It involved four testing conditions: dual use, exclusive smoking, exclusive vaping, and non-use. Various measures and models were utilized to examine changes in product use and biomarkers.

What the Nicotine and Tobacco Research study found was astonishing.

When compared to dual use, cotinine (an alkaloid found in tobacco that is also the predominant metabolite of nicotine) remained stable when participants exclusively smoked (p=0.524), but significantly dropped when participants exclusively vaped (p=0.027), even despite significant increases in e-cig consumption (p=0.001).

Biomarkers of exposure to various toxicants including carbon monoxide (CO: a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is slightly less dense than air. Toxic to hemoglobic animals both invertebrate and vertebrate, including humans when encountered in concentrations above about 35 ppm), 1-hydroxypyrene (1-HOP: a urinary metabolite, is a marker of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), and 4-methylnitrosaminio-1-3-pyridyl-1-butanol (NNAL: tobacco-specific nitrosamines are present in cigarette smoke and to a lesser degree in “smokeless” tobacco products such as dipping tobacco and chewing tobacco) were significantly lower when users exclusively vaped, as compared to when they engaged in dual use (CO: -41%, p<0.001; 1-HOP: -31%, p=0.025; NNAL: -30%, p=0.017).

When compared to dual use participants abstaining from both products (no cigarette smoking or e-cig use), results were quite similar (CO: -26%, p<0.001; 1-HOP: -14% (ns); NNAL -35%, p=0.016). Comparatively, biomarkers of exposure increased when test subjects smoked cigarettes exclusively (CO: +21%, p=0.029; 1-HOP: +23%, p=0.048).

In conclusion, the study found that dual use may reduce exposure to harmful tobacco smoke, but that abstaining from smoking all together would be the most effective way to reduce overall exposure.

So what does all this mean? Here are a few important takeaways from the Canadian experiment:

  1. Users who exclusively vaped over the seven day test period showed reduced carbon monoxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and tobacco-specific nitrosamines biomarkers.
  2. Test subjects who smoked exclusively during the testing period showed increased biomarkers.

Essentially, this is a win win for vaping. Both dual use, and exclusive vaping showed lower toxicant levels than those who smoked exclusively. This also serves to disprove the common anti-ecig myth that dual use (e-cigs and traditional tobacco) is just as bad, if not worse for your health, than smoking cigarettes. And when you look at the facts, it only makes sense that this would be the case. Any reduction in combustible tobacco consumption is bound to show improved biomarker levels.

It’s safe to say that more testing, studies, and real life experimentation is required before these findings can be considered fact. Results will need to be replicated, and a common conclusion among the scientific community will need to be reached. And while this may sound somewhat foreign to the anti-ecig and mainstream media news outlets, it is SCIENCE 101 for everyone else.

Regardless, vapers can walk away with their head held high today. Another study showing the positive health benefits of vaping has been added to the list.