Better Ask Barry: Is vaping harmful or safe?

Medical community remains divided

SALINAS, Calif. - The makers of e-cigarettes claim their products are much safer than actual cigarettes. Next year, they'll be expected to prove it.

The FDA has set a May 2020 deadline for manufacturers to demonstrate that e-cigarettes are a "net good" to public health.

Currently, the medical community is divided over the safety of vaping.

The American Lung Association says e-cigarettes are not safe, while the American Cancer Society says they are "significantly less harmful to adults than smoking regular cigarettes."

Pro-vaping advocates point to a study by England's top public health agency. Its side-by-side test compared the effects of cigarettes and e-cigarettes on the lungs.

They concluded that e-cigarettes are at least 95 percent *less* harmful than cigarettes.

CBS News asked an American team to run the same test, and the results were about the same.

"I would agree with that, and actually I would go further. I think there's now evidence, from looking at the cancer bio-markers, that it could be as high as 98 or 99% for cancer," said Dr. David Abrams, with New York University.

At the same time, a study at West Virginia University looked at the potential long term effects of vaping -- not on the lungs, but on the heart.

They exposed rodents to the equivalent of 25 "human" years of e-cigarette vapor and found the animals'  arteries got harder.

"Stiffer arteries means greater risk for stroke, for heart attack, atherosclerosis, aneurysms, any number of vascular effects," said Mark Olfert, from the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Olfert says nicotine is not the problem. He believes there is something in the base solution, which is largely made up of oils.

Olfert calls the health risks from vaping "about as close to the risk from cigarettes as you can get."

CBS This Morning has more on the research.






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