September 6, 2018

Can Vaping Help Reverse COPD Harm?

Vaping can help reverse some of the harm caused by smoking in people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). That’s the finding of a new study published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

The research found that smokers with COPD who used e-cigarettes showed consistently improved overall health and physical activity, and respiratory infections and other effects of COPD were reduced. They also showed that vaping did not worsen the patients’ lung health.

The study looked at two groups of COPD patients for three years. One group of 22 patients switched from smoking cigarettes to using e-cigarettes (or greatly reduced their smoking by vaping), and the other group of 22 who continued to smoke and did not use e-cigarettes during the three-year study. The group that continued to smoke did not show signs of harm reversal.

The new study comes from Prof. Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania (Italy), and seven other researchers from Italian and British universities and hospitals. Dr. Polosa, a lung specialist and veteran of vaping research, previously showed that vaping can improve asthma symptoms in smokers. He has also followed healthy never-smoking vapers that showed no signs of heart or lung damage after three years of vaping.

Even the patients who didn’t completely quit smoking improved their health.

The research verified results that had been suggested by an earlier Polosa study. But that study relied on questioning COPD patients about their health over a two-year period, not observation and testing on patients in real time. For the new study, Polosa and his colleagues followed the same patients for an additional year and carefully marked their progress.

Smokers with COPD traditionally have a poor record of quitting cigarettes. That’s why the most important effect of vaping for smoking COPD sufferers may be the most obvious one: e-cigarettes provide a viable alternative for smokers who have a hard time quitting.

“Quitting smoking is a key strategy not only to prevent the onset of COPD but also to stop its progression to more severe disease stages,” Dr. Polosa said. “Given that many COPD patients continue smoking despite their symptoms, the electronic cigarette could be an effective and safe alternative to the tobacco cigarettes also in this vulnerable population. Over an observation period of three years, only two patients (8.3%) relapsed to cigarette smoking, and both patients were dual users.”

Even the patients who didn’t completely quit smoking improved their health. They decreased their cigarette consumption by at least 75 percent, and showed reduced COPD symptoms and better overall quality of life.

Perhaps the best result of this study would be wider acceptance of vaping as a medical strategy to help smoking COPD patients avoid further damage to their lungs.

“While the sample size in our study was relatively small,” write the authors, “the results of this study may provide preliminary evidence that long-term use of [e-cigarettes] is unlikely to result in substantial health concerns in COPD patients.”

Smokers created vaping without any help from the tobacco industry or anti-smoking crusaders, and vapers have the right to keep innovating to help themselves. My goal is to provide clear, honest information about the challenges vaping faces from lawmakers, regulators, and brokers of disinformation. I recently joined the CASAA board, but my opinions aren’t necessarily CASAA’s, and vice versa. You can find me on Twitter @whycherrywhy

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Was a smoker for 30yrs, started vaping 6yrs ago. Couldn’t even roll over in bed without coughing up a lung, couldn’t have a good laugh without coughing or walk anywhere without struggling to breath. After vaping for 6yrs, I now don’t cough at all and I have walked up hanging rock in Victoria no problems. Thankyou to the inventor’s of the ecig.


Just sent this to a friend who has COPD and is off cigarettes for three days now. Sounds encouraging.


Jim McDonald

I was never diagnosed with COPD , but while smoking between 2 – 3 packs a day working outdoors in the winter I had chronic bronchitis for years. I began vaping 9 years ago this past labor day and have not had a respiratory issue other than minor colds since. My vote is yes.

Jim McDonald

Good news!


I also had smoked for over 41 years and have been vapeing fo almost 4 years. I was told that over 10 years ago I had COPD and for years every winter One to two times a year for 4 or 5 years I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia and be out of work for over a week. In the last 3 years I have only missed 3 or 4 days of work. There is a long set of steps at work I used to have to have to stop half way up to catch my breath but now no problems with at all. There is no doubt that vaping has added years to my life! My doctor has been amazed at the transformation of my health.

Jim McDonald

Very good to hear!


Jim thank you so much. I read your news stories every week and I have to say they always have great information. Keep it up. #maketheswitch

Jim McDonald

After 40 plus years of smoking and now 2 and half years vaping only I finally realised that my lung capacity had not increased. Went to the doctor and of course had seems that smoking had masked my symptoms. Have been using Spiolto vapouriser for nearly a year and have found that on the inhale of the drug I could only hold my breath for 10 seconds but now can go for 20 to 25 seconds so something must be working.


Good on you, hopefully things only keep getting better. I have had people tell me that their doctors could no longer tell that they had been cigarette smokers after vaping for five or so years. Our lungs are capable of healing themselves, just not when they are full of smoke.

Jim McDonald

Good to hear about the progress!


I have COPD and emphysema and have card full time for 2+ years I’ve found my breathing is getting better slowly mind you but it’s working

Jim McDonald

Great news!

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