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Feb 11, 2019
5:14PM

Heated tobacco devices equally harmful as e-cigarettes, smoking: Study

Representational pic
The new heated tobacco devices, marketed as a safer substitute for cigarettes, cause the same damage to human lung cells as vaping and traditional smoking, a study led by an Indian-origin researcher has found.


The study, published in ERJ Open Research, suggests that the device, which heats solid tobacco instead of an e-liquid, is no less toxic to the cells than ordinary cigarette smoke.


Pawan Sharma from the University of Technology, Sydney and the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Australia has said, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death, and with the introduction of e-cigarettes in the last decade, the trend of nicotine uptake is not going to slow down in the near future. 


He said, if the current trend continues, tobacco use will cause more than eight million deaths annually by 2030 around the world.


The latest addition in this emerging trend is the planned and vigorous introduction of heated tobacco devices. They are commonly called the next generation or heat-not-burn products.


Researchers tested the effects of all three nicotine sources on two types of cells taken from the human airways: epithelial cells and smooth muscle cells.


In healthy lungs, epithelial cells act as the first line of defence to any foreign particles entering the airway while smooth muscle cells maintain the structure of the airway. However, smoking can lead to difficulty in breathing primarily by hampering the normal functions of these cells.


The researchers found that cigarette smoke and heated tobacco vapour were highly toxic to the cells both at lower and higher concentrations while e-cigarette vapour demonstrated toxicity mainly at higher concentrations.

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