What Does Vaping Do To Your Lungs?

/ 4 min read

What Does Vaping Do To Your Lungs?

One of the most common questions regarding vaping and health is how it impacts our lungs. We have seen many negative headlines over the years surrounding vaping and its supposed impact on our lungs, however many of these have been disproved, such as popcorn lung.

The reality is that the ideal study data to properly identify the risk to our lungs from vaping does not yet exist. Almost all studies exploring the impact of vaping rely on vapers who previously smoked, making it hard to determine if any damage is being cause by their current vaping, or previous smoking.

Health experts including the NHS and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) agree however, that from what we do know, vaping presents a far lower risk to lung health than smoking cigarettes.

What The Experts Say About Vaping & Lung Health

The UK Asthma & Lung Organisation takes a balanced view when talking about lung damage. They recognise that e-cigarettes are not risk-free, and that more research is needed to assess long-term impacts, however also note that if you are trying to stop smoking they are a preferred alternative to tobacco from a arm-reduction standpoint.

They say:

“We know that vaping can cause inflammation in the airways, which might cause harm over time. We don’t recommend that anyone uses e-cigarettes unless they are trying to stop smoking.

If you have a long-term lung condition, it’s a good idea to stop vaping eventually. But it’s important to not give up vaping before you’re ready, as this could cause you to start smoking again.”

Further to this, Cancer Research UK highlights the lack of good evidence that vaping causes severe health issues. They state that:

“There is no good evidence that legal e-cigarettes in the UK cause lung disease.

Many studies show that vaping is far less harmful than smoking. This is because e-cigarettes don’t contain cancer-causing tobacco, and most of the toxic chemicals found in cigarettes are not in e-cigarettes. Some potentially harmful chemicals have been found in e-cigarettes. But levels are usually low and generally far lower than in tobacco cigarettes.

There is no good evidence that vaping causes cancer.”

When talking about popcorn lung, CRUK also highlights the lack of credible links to the condition in this report. Their highlights from the referenced page state that:

  • “E-cigarettes don’t cause the lung condition known as popcorn lung”
  • “There have been no confirmed cases of popcorn lung reported in people who use e-cigarettes”
  • “E-cigarettes are one of the tools that can help people who smoke to stop”

As a final word on the subject, they tell us that while some e-liquids used to contain Diacetyl, the ingredient purported to cause popcorn lung, this ingredient was banned from use in e-liquids in the UK under the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in 2016. With no confirmed cases being linked to e-cigarettes.

In the same report, CRUK notes the “EVALI” outbreak in America, which caused widespread fears amongst UK residents that vaping may cause serious lung injuries. Thankfully this was eventually debunked after being linked to illegal vapes only, as you can see below:

“EVALI stands for ‘e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury’. You may have heard about vaping causing an outbreak of this lung illness in 2019 in the United States. An investigation found the cases of EVALI were linked to contaminated illegal products. It was not linked to regular or long-term vaping. There was no similar outbreak of EVALI in the UK, and the chemicals of concern are banned in e-cigarettes in the UK. There is no good evidence that legal e-cigarettes in the UK cause lung disease.”

Yorkshire Cancer Research also takes a pro-vaping stance because of the potential reduction of harm Vs cigarettes, stating that:

“a number of other independent e-cigarette reports have been published by Public Health England and other national bodies. All of them have consistently reinforced the finding from previous reports that vaping is significantly less harmful compared to smoking.

Almost all the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of chemicals (such as tar and carbon monoxide) contained in tobacco smoke. As vaping products do not contain or burn tobacco, these chemicals are either not present or are present at significantly lower levels.”

lungs in hand in a metaphorical depiction

The NHS further reinforces the fact that vaping poses a lower risk to health, including your lungs. They tell us that “they are far less harmful than cigarettes and can help you quit smoking for good”.

They also remind us in this information page that vaping can cause some side-effects including:

  • coughing, dry mouth and throat
  • mouth and throat irritation
  • shortness of breath

They advise anyone who experiences them to speak to a stop smoking adviser, GP, or specialist vape retailer before you decide to stop using vaping as a quitting tool. Stating that:

“Making small changes to your vape products or how you vape should help. Side effects are usually easily managed and should not stop you from vaping as a way to quit smoking.”

If you are considering vaping as an alternative to smoking, as a specialist vape retailer we have compiled some impartial guidance on how to get started in our Making The Switch information hub which you may like to explore.