To get insights in the risks associated to the use of the New and Emerging Tobacco Products the organizer Daniel Conklin (University of Louisville) and co-organizer Judith Zelikoff (New York University) invited the public health specialist Neal Benowitz (University of California, San Francisco) to chair a special session during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting, on February 12, 2016.

Both organizers and Ilona Jaspers (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) did presentations of their ongoing research during which the list of potential health threats of emerging tobacco products built up.

E-cig products may lead to new risks for health

The researchers presented their most recent studies on the effects of vaporized e-liquids on the cardiovascular (D. Conklin), the pulmonary (I. Jaspers), and the reproductive systems (J. Zelikoff). Their conclusions indicate that vaping may not eliminate risks associated with conventional smoking “and may actually be introducing new ones”, adds Jaspers to Janet Raloff for sciencenews.org.

E-cigarette vapor and artery’s health

Conklin recalled that smoking is the major cause of avoidable death, and cardiovascular diseases account for nearly half of the overall smoking-related mortality. His team investigated the cardiovascular toxicity of tobacco products on mice, focussing on e-cigarette aerosols.They found that e-cigarette or smokeless tobacco exposure increased atherosclerosis in mice. Even more surprising was the discovery of the single or combined effects of toxic aldehydes and nicotine on arteries. The reseacher concluded that electronic cigarette vapors “could adversely impact the cardiovascular health of users”.

Flavored e-liquids and the immune function

Jaspers and her team focussed on e-liquids additives like aromas and their effects on the defensive barrier of the pulmonary tree. Their findings indicate that the respiratory immune responses was potentially decreased after exposure to e-cigarette aerosols, in a similar amplitude as for tobacco smoke. After the recent debate on butter-flavored and cherry-flavored molecules, Jaspers got interested in cinnamon-flavored e-cigarettes containing cinnamaldehyde and pointed out a significant negative effect on epithelial cell physiology and barrier function. Her ongoing research on blood natural killer cells (macrophages) revealed that cinnamon may have immune suppressive effects, unlike broccoli sprout extracts that enhances antiviral defense responses.

E-liquids, reduced reproduction potential and mental disorders

Zelikoff has addressed the question of early life exposure to alternative tobacco/nicotine products. Her team investigates how e-cigarettes affect reproduction, development and long term health. Their findings after exposure to a globally-relevant smokeless tobacco product ex-utero, in-utero and post-natally show in mice:

  • decreases sperm counts,
  • increasing sperm DNA damage in a mouse model.
  • reduces the incidence of pregnancy
  • increases the risk of fatty liver and cardiovascular risk factors in adult offspring.
  • drastically reduce sperm counts and sperm mobility in juvenile offspring
  • gene changes in the brain as well as altered behavior in adult male and female offspring, suggesting hyper activity or agitation.
“We’re really at the beginning of understanding the toxicity of emerging products” -N. Benowitz
In conclusion, the chairman, Neal Benowitz underlined the challenges of this emerging science. The studies conducted in vitro or on animal models may prefigure the potential effects of exposure to tobacco smoke and new tobacco products to the human. He concluded that there is a lot of complexity to understanding what goes into the vapors and the tissues that may be at risk. Before the general perception that vaping is safer than smoking because it contains no tar and only a few toxicants compared to tobacco smoke, the role of researchers will be to tease out: “Is this really true?”.

Zelikoff who believes in the precautionary principle added: “I would look at these animal data with a great deal of respect.” if she were pregnant.


I. Jaspers. Pulmonary effects of exposure to tobacco smoke and tobacco products. AAAS annual meeting. February 12, 2016.

J. Zelikoff. Reproductive and developmental effects of exposure to emerging tobacco products. AAAS annual meeting. February 12, 2016.

D. Conklin. Cardiovascular effects of exposure to tobacco products and harmful constituents. AAAS annual meeting. February 12, 2016.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Should IFS, MAYS and COULDS determine technological growth, man would still be hunched in caves scavenging berries. Time to take your noses out of the petri dish, there is a whole world to see if you just look up.

  2. Did I miss it or were there really no links to these so-called studies? I also note the use of the word “potential”. Well, using that word, there should be a longer list of elements, etc. They are using the same tactics used with tobacco, the only caveat with e-cigs, is they also have to be careful to not step on big pharma’s products……which I believe they have done here. If they are going to attack the use of nicotine, they HAVE to include everything containing it. Unfortunately, that would also include some of our favorite foods like tea, broccoli and tomatoes. Good luck with coming up with a rationale against the e-cigs.

  3. The only way to study the impact of vaping on humans is by studying humans who actually vape, which the FDA, NIH, and NIDA have refused to do since they began their War on Vaping in 2009.

    Clinical studies on cell tissues and mice are NOT scientifically valid or appropriate for assessing potential risks (or benefits) to humans.

    The only reason FDA, NIH and NIDA have funded these (and many other) cell and mouse studies is to deceive the public to believe vaping is as harmful as cigarette smoking
    https://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2016/webprogram/Session11790.html
    https://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2016/webprogram/Paper16208.html (Ilano Jaspers mucous)
    https://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2016/webprogram/Paper16210.html (Judith Lelikoff mice)
    https://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2016/webprogram/Paper16211.html (Daniel Conklin mice)

    The Univ of North Carolina press release at
    http://www.newswise.com/articles/put-that-in-your-e-cigarette-and-smoke-it-or-should-you
    and the Univ of Louisville press release at
    http://louisville.edu/medicine/news/more-evidence-found-on-potential-harmful-effects-of-e-cigarettes
    further deceived the news media (via consultation with the study’s authors and funders at FDA, NIH, NIDA instructed) by falsely insinuating these study results apply to (or may apply to) humans.

    And of course, the lazy, stupid and gullible news reporters repeated and further exaggerated the press release claims about the study,
    which truly pleased FDA, NIH and NIDA because it’s the exact propaganda they originally funded the activist researchers and institutions to generate
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/306444.php
    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/vaping-linked-host-new-health-risks
    https://student.societyforscience.org/article/vaping-may-threaten-brain-immunity-and-more
    http://now.howstuffworks.com/2016/02/11/new-studies-potential-harmful-effects-ecigarettes

    • I fully agree with you, Bill, that such bad press to e-cigarette may deter smokers from turning to this alternative.

      It is important (1) to highlight the source of information the journalist use in their publication and (2) to recall that what is found in vitro or on animal models cannot be transposed directly to humans. In journals, journalists often make shortcuts to conclude in the harmfulness to humans… and sometimes they are helped in this task by some of the co-authors whose objectivity is obscured by personal beliefs.

      Thanks for commenting

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