With the global push to regulate electronic cigarettes as if they’re some huge threat to public health, it’s important to remember just how much damage they could help avert. For asthma-sufferers, smoking is associated with more exacerbations of their condition, their lung function declining more quickly and the corticosteroids used for treatment creating less of a positive effect. The widespread use of vaping as a smoking substitute has understandable potential to reduce the problems among asthma-sufferers, but there was previously no research to support this assertion.
A new study from Professor Riccardo Polosa and colleagues investigates the improvements seen in asthma-suffering smokers who either notably reduce or entirely quit smoking due to vaping.
1. Researchers looked at data from 18 asthmatic smokers who were vaping at two consecutive follow-up clinic visits between late 2012 and 2013. Baseline and pre-baseline data were also used to show that any changes weren’t part of a trend from before the individual started vaping.
2. Asthma control questionnaires, Spirometry tests and airway hyper-responsiveness tests were conducted, and any exacerbations in condition were noted.
3. After a year, statistically significant improvements were seen in Spirometry data, asthma control and airway hyper-responsiveness tests in both the full-switchers and the dual users.
4. 10 of the 18 participants quit smoking entirely by vaping, and the dual users reduced their average daily cigarette consumption from 22.4 to 3.9 after a year.
5. No participants needed to be admitted to intensive care or hospital during the study period, and the number of exacerbations decreased overall, but this difference was not significant.
6. The benefits observed in participants’ conditions are expected to be related to quitting smoking rather than vaping itself, but the research does indicate that electronic cigarettes are well-tolerated in asthmatics.
7. The small sample size in the study is an important limitation, but the findings corroborate existing knowledge about the benefits of quitting or substantially reducing smoking for asthmatics.