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E-cigarette less harmful than regular cigarettes, according to KU Leuven students

11 Apr 2020
by Willy van Knippenberg

The use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid is very controversial. But if we assume that smoking will always be part of our society, isn't it wise to investigate if an e-cigarette is not a better alternative?

4 Journalism students from KU Leuven did a small research and interviewed a pulmonologist from the Antwerp University Hospital and a tobacco specialist affiliated with the VRGT (Flemish Association for Respiratory Health Care and Tuberculosis Control)

Research on e-cigarette is still in its infancy

"An exact estimate of the health risks remains difficult," explains pulmonologist and tobaccoologist Jo Raskin (University Hospital Antwerp). “The research into the e-cigarette is still in its infancy. What we do know with certainty is that nicotine, a component that is usually present in the e-cigarette, is a harmful substance. It has an addictive effect and can damage the development of the brain. In addition, the liquid in an e-cigarette may contain heavy metals such as lead or even some carcinogenic substances. ”

But the e-cigarette's vaporized liquids generally contain less harmful chemicals than the smoke from burnt tobacco products, nuances Marouschka Beckers, a tobacco scientist at VRGT. A smoker burns four thousand substances and a vaper only vaporizes five, namely vegetable glycerine, propylene glycol, usually nicotine, flavors and water as an additional substance. “Vaporizing and burning, that is already a big difference to your health. Vaping is therefore healthier than smoking, but of course there are still dangers involved. You still evaporate a substance that goes directly into your lungs. ”

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Ban on flavors is not a good idea

A ban on the e-cigarette does not seem to be a good strategy, according to various experts. Ordinary cigarettes, which are still legal, are much more harmful than the e-cigarette. By removing the e-cigarette from the offer, smokers will return to the regular cigarette. A ban on flavors, as is the case in the United States, is also a bad idea. Users need these flavors to make the switch from a regular cigarette to an electronic one.


Vaping therefore remains significantly less harmful than smoking regular cigarettes, according to the students of KU Leuven. They do think that there is a need for more extensive research into the harmful effects of the e-cigarette.

Source: Eos Science

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