Vaping Is Better Than Smoking, And Could Save Tobacco Users' Lives, Study Finds

It's time that public opinion towards e-cigarettes change to a more favorable climate. Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images

The best way for smokers to cut their risk of early death is to quit smoking, but new research indicates that if that fails, switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes could be a solid plan B. The study found that tobacco users who turn to vaping generally live longer.

For the study, now published online in Tobacco Control, lead researcher David Levy from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and his team studied what happened to cigarettes smokers who had switched from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes over the course of 10 years. The research took a number of factors and possible variables into account such as age that smokers first began their habit into their account. According to the results, switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes increased lifespan.

In a recent statement, Levy said the findings support the idea that "a policy strategy that encourages replacing cigarette smoking with vaping to yield substantial life year gains."

Related: Puffing just one e-cigarette with nicotine can damage your heart

The study suggested many reasons for this extended lifespan. Switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes might leave fewer smokers disabled, for eample. Or it could lower the amount of toxins they are exposed to.

Dr. Frank Baeyens, a professor of psychology at the KU Leuven University in Belgium, who studies the effects of e-cigarette use but was not affiliated with study, told Newsweek that although he is pleased with the results of this study, he is not surprised by them. Baeyens explained that the science backing e-cigarettes as a better alternative to traditional cigarettes is already there. The real struggle will be getting the public to see this and then make the switch.

Related: Vapers beware: cherry-flavored e-cigarettes can be toxic

Baeyens thinks that fear-mongering about the hypothetical dangers of e-cigarettes might turn public opinion against them. "The image of electronic cigarettes have will define if this will translate to reality. Political climate and media climate are crucial to if this becomes reality or not," Baeyens told Newsweek.

Because e-cigarettes are still relatively new, the long-term health consequences are unknown. A study released last month suggested that just one puff of a nicotine e-cigarette increased adrenaline levels and could cause heart damage. In addition, many e-cigarettes still contain nicotine, which is not only highly addictive but also has been linked to brain damage in both young children exposed second-hand, and unborn children of women who use nicotine products during pregnancy. And many e-cigarette products contain questionable ingredients other than nicotine, such as formaldehyde.

"The study overall is a simulation study that projects potential benefits," said Dr. Michael Ong, an associate professor at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine who was not affiliated with the study. "Such studies depend on assumptions made. If further studies show differences in the ability to transition successfully from cigarette smoking, or show more harms related to vaping than are used in this study, the findings may differ."

According to Ong recommends that smokers take advantage of counseling and FDA-approved medications to help them quit rather than turning to e-cigarettes.

Even with factoring in possible health risks, says Levy, the Georgetown Lombardi study still determined that switching to e-cigarettes from tobacco could save lives. "Even the gloomiest analysis shows a significant gain in years of life if nicotine is obtained from vaping instead of much more deadly amount of toxicants inhaled with cigarette smoke," concluded Levy in his statement.