To perform these experiments, the tobacco giant teamed up with the MatTek Corporation, maker of human cell models used in “in vitro” laboratory experiments. Scientists then used a “smoking robot” to expose these lung cell replicas to tobacco smoke, two different brands of e-cig vapor, and plain old air.
After being exposed to old-fashioned smoke for six (6) hours, the cells died. However, after subjecting the cells to an “aggressive and continuous” dose of e-cig vapor, researchers claimed the damage to the airway tissue was “similar to that of air”. BAT spokesperson, Dr Marina Murphy, stated “by employing a combination of a smoking robot and a lab-based test using respiratory tissue, it was possible to demonstrate…. the e-cigarette aerosols used in this study have no [toxic] effect on human airway tissue.”
There are plans to tests a wider variety of e-cigs, to prove its results. “Currently there are no standards concerning the ‘in vitro’ testing of electronic cigarette aerosols,” said Marina Trani, Group Head Scientific Product Stewardship at British American Tobacco. “Our protocol could prove very useful in helping the process by which these guidelines might progress.”
The debate about e-cigarette safety has been raging for several years. Study after study have highlighted health risks, although most experts agree vaping is much safer than smoking cigarettes. Dr Michael Siegel, professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at Boston University’s School of Public Health, welcomed the latest study as evidence of the safety of electronic cigarettes; stating “Despite the limitations of the research, it adds additional evidence to support the contention that vaping is a lot safer than smoking.”
He called on public health bodies and anti-tobacco groups alike to encourage smokers to swap to vaping; a step which would “transform the nicotine market and achieve a huge public health victory.” going on to proclaim, “Such a phenomenon would result in the greatest public health miracle of our lifetimes.”
However, the health expert warned overheating liquid nicotine could produce dangerous toxins. Personally, overheating e-juice taste horrible and should be avoided for that reason alone. Vaping advocates claimed the previously research results, which found e-cigs vapor held dangerous chemicals, were false due to the nicotine liquid being exposed to high temperatures.
Earlier this year, British American Tobacco announced the release of a device called Voke, not currently available on the market, which is licensed as a medicine and produces no heat, working more like an asthma inhaler than an electronic cigarette.Tom Pruen, Chief Scientific Officer of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association, stated he was satisfied the latest research was accurate. “While I’m sure that for many the source of the research will be a problem, of recent years the science conducted by the tobacco industry has been of very good quality, and despite the historic issues I wouldn’t view it with any greater skepticism than research conducted elsewhere,” he said. He went on to add, “the results are not unexpected. Not only are the components of an e-cig aerosol expected to be of low toxicity, based on a large number of analytical studies, but this research broadly agrees with a previous study.”