Heated Tobacco Devices: Not a Safe Option

Heated tobacco devices caused same lung cell damage as smoking

(RxWiki News) New heated tobacco devices are not a safe alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes or using electronic cigarettes, according to a new study.

This study directly compared the lung cell damage caused by e-cigarette and cigarette use to this new type of device, which heats solid tobacco to create a nicotine vapor that the user inhales. The conclusion? The heated tobacco vapor from these new devices was highly toxic to healthy lung cells — just like cigarette smoke.

The authors of this study said their findings suggest that new nicotine-delivery devices are not a safe alternative to traditional cigarette smoking.

"The latest addition in this emerging trend is the planned and vigorous introduction of heated tobacco devices," said lead study author Dr. Pawan Sharma, of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, in a press release. "They are commonly called next generation or heat-not-burn products. We know very little about the health effects of these new devices, so we designed this research to compare them with cigarette smoking and vaping."

These researchers studied the effects of cigarettes, e-cigs, and heated tobacco devices on epithelial cells and smooth muscle cells from the lungs. Both of these types of cells are damaged by smoking, which leads to trouble breathing.

All three nicotine sources damaged these cells, this study found. Cigarette smoke and vapor from heated tobacco devices were found to be highly toxic, while vapor from e-cigs was found to be toxic at higher concentrations.

"It took us nearly five decades to understand the damaging effects of cigarette smoke, and we don't yet know the long-term impact of using e-cigarettes," Dr. Sharma said. "These devices that heat solid tobacco are relatively new, and it will be decades before we will fully understand their effects on human health. What we do know is that damage to these two types of lung cells can destroy lung tissue, leading to fatal diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer and pneumonia, and can increase the risk of developing asthma, so we should not assume that these devices are a safer option."

Quitting nicotine now can have major health benefits in both the short and long term. If you need help kicking the habit, ask your health care provider about safe smoking cessation strategies and options.

This study was published in the journal ERJ Open Research.

The Rebecca L. Cooper Foundation and Clifford Craig Foundation funded this research. The study authors disclosed no potential conflicts of interest.

Written By Digital Pharmacist Staff

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Review Date: 
February 11, 2019