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Comparing the cancer potencies of emissions from vapourised nicotine products including e-cigarettes with those of tobacco smoke

8/4/2017 - Tobacco control

BACKGROUND: Quantifying relative harm caused by inhaling the aerosol emissions of vapourised nicotine products compared with smoking combustible tobacco is an important issue for public health. METHODS: The cancer potencies of various nicotine-delivering aerosols are modelled using published chemical analyses of emissions and their associated inhalation unit risks. Potencies are compared using a conversion procedure for expressing smoke and e-cigarette vapours in common units. Lifetime cancer risks are calculated from potencies using daily consumption estimates. RESULTS: The aerosols form a spectrum of cancer potencies spanning five orders of magnitude from uncontaminated air to tobacco smoke. E-cigarette emissions span most of this range with the preponderance of products having potencies heat-not-burn > e-cigarettes (normal power)≥nicotine inhaler. CONCLUSIONS: Optimal combinations of device settings, liquid formulation and vaping behaviour normally result in e-cigarette emissions with much less carcinogenic potency than tobacco smoke, notwithstanding there are circumstances in which the cancer risks of e-cigarette emissions can escalate, sometimes substantially. These circumstances are usually avoidable when the causes are known.
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