Vaping has less than 1% the cancer risk of tobacco smoke [new study]

Is this the best month for American vapers ever? It looks that way...


A new study has found that vaping at normal power levels poses almost none of the cancer risk of inhaling tobacco smoke. It was published last week in the journal Tobacco Control.

Dr. William Stephens, of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, measured the cancer potencies of various vapor, heat-not-burn, and tobacco products, using published chemical analyses of emissions. He then devised a method to express the measurements of vapor and smoke in common units. This allowed better comparison of risk.

The last month has brought a lot of good news for American vapers -- perhaps more good news in a short period than ever before.

Although he explains that using vape products at excessively high power (in other words, taking dry hits) produces high levels of aldehydes — which we already knew — when using e-cigarettes properly, the cancer risk of vaping is less than one percent that of smoking. In fact, the danger of cancer from vaping is almost as low or as low as for nicotine replacement therapies (NRT’s), like nicotine gum or patches.

“This study should put to rest any doubt within the tobacco control movement about whether vaping greatly reduces health risk compared to smoking,” writes Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University. “Numerous anti-tobacco groups and health departments have repeatedly asserted that vaping is no less hazardous than smoking, but this claim is false, and the present study adds significantly to the already substantial evidence that vaping is orders of magnitude safer than smoking.”

Prof. Glantz: who cares about cancer?

Same old Thinking

Congratulations to University of California-San Francisco professor Stanton Glantz for acknowledging the existence of this extremely encouraging study. Shame on him for deliberately misleading readers of his blog by burying the good news and instead flogging his favorite “alternative facts.”

“This analysis ignores the fact that cancer ‘only’ accounts for about 1/3 of the tobacco-induced deaths,” writes Glantz. “Most are from cardiovascular and metabolic disease and non-cancer pulmonary disease. The evidence to date suggests that e-cigarettes pose substantial risks for these outcomes, particularly because of the ultrafine particles they deliver.

“Any consideration of the risks of e-cigarette use also need to consider population effects, particularly the fact that they expand the nicotine market by attracting kids and depress quitting among adult smokers.”

Ultrafine particles are a cardiovascular risk in smoking, because the particles are solid and made of combustion materials. E-cig vapor particles are liquid, and are absorbed by the tissue on the throat, esophagus, and lungs. There is no evidence liquid particles can lodge in the lungs or arteries and have the same kinds of effects that solid ones do.

But that’s Prof. Glantz’s long-held theory. He’s sticking to it, despite the fact that no other scientist has confirmed this “danger,” and no one else even mentions it, except health departments and politicians that consult with Prof. Glantz and his cronies at UCSF.

The claim that vaping “depresses quitting among adult smokers” comes from his own 2016 “meta-analysis” of existing vaping/smoking cessation literature. That widely panned (by Ann McNeill and Peter Hajek, Clive Bates, and Carl Phillips, among others) exercise in data torture has already been mostly forgotten.

Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos has just addressed Glantz’s blog entry. “This unimaginable statement is not only inhumane but it is also totally unscientific and contrary to any available data,” writes the cardiologist. He denounces Glantz’s cavalier dismissal of concerns over smokers reducing cancer risks by vaping, explaing that “More deaths will be prevented through reductions in lung disease and cancers compared to reductions in cardiovascular/metabolic disease.

A really good few weeks for vapers


The last month has brought a lot of good news for American vapers — perhaps more good news in a short period than ever before. The FDA has postponed the 2018 deeming PMTA deadline, and decided to rethink nicotine, smoking, and vaping in a substantial way. A high quality study of census data shows that vaping definitely is helping smokers quit smoking (sorry, Prof. Glantz). Vapers have helped collect enough valid signatures to challenge the ban on flavored e-liquid in San Francisco.

And now we have concrete evidence that one of the largest risks of smoking is practically absent in vaping. What a good few weeks! Let’s hope some of the positivity rubs off on India and Australia, who are facing some real challenges.

Jim McDonald

I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.

  • Great!

  • Jose A. Ramirez Lopez


  • Danny Wang

    God Bless Vape Industry!

  • Keng

    I don’t know how long for Thailand to accept the truth and sacrifice the government profit from selling tobacco and changing to improve the good health of citizen and reduce the death of tobacco harm.

  • charlie

    Vaping is lower health risk than smoking, certainly far far lower risk. Vaping can also be orders of magnitude less expensive. If you mix and rebuild and don’t buy stuff you don’t need vaping is free for practical purposes. The potential benefits for families of smokers, especially low income families, is hard to overstate. Thousands of dollars a year saved do more than any government program ever could. The indifference of so many so-called public health officials to these likely benefits makes them part of the swamp the President needs too drain. Bravo to the FDA for changing course and allowing more time to sort things out. I love the idea of taking the nic out of cigarettes. I’m annoyed because I didn’t think of it.

  • David

    So let’s say that Dr Glantz is correct in that about 33% of tobacco deaths are caused by cancer and his other theories are accurate, that still makes vaping at least 30% healthier than smoking. I don’t see the issue on how groups (other than for monetary reasons) can say that vaping is “as bad as smoking”. If we take out the consideration of the monetary benefits, it’s unbelievable, if you ask me.

    • Jim McDonald

      Glantz (who is a PhD, not an MD) himself says it’s probably 70% safer.

      The expressed concern among those who admit it’s safer but still fight it is that the perceived “safety” will encourage new users who will then either move to smoking or keep vaping long enough to encounter some currently unrecognized risk.

      • David

        My percentage came from the amount of cancer related deaths caused by tobacco induced deaths that was mentioned (” “This analysis ignores the fact that cancer ‘only’ accounts for about 1/3 of the tobacco-induced deaths,” writes Glantz. “). My point is that even if it is 30% (or 33%) safer, it’s still safer than smoking. That’s about 30-33% less deaths (almost 160,000 less).

        I wasn’t aware that he mentioned specifically a 70% probability of it being safer but that’s an even better percentage.

        Believe me. I’m all for vaping. Been vaping full time for over 2 years now and am loving what has happened to me since. I was a dual user for about 6-7 years back with the China brand cigalikes and juices. I think vaping should be an alternative for those who want to get off smoking. For me, good quality products and juices was the only way for me to get off fully (that and the nagging from my wife. LOL!).

        • Jim McDonald

          I wasn’t doubting you, just clarifying. This statement:

          “This analysis ignores the fact that cancer ‘only’ accounts for about 1/3 of the tobacco-induced deaths”

          Means that of all the people who die from smoking, only a third die from cancer. The others die of heart disease, COPD, etc.