The review was recently published in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology. Study author Dr. Jason Gardner, Professor of Physiology at LSU’s School of Health, reported an association between HTP consumption and elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, cell death, and circulatory dysfunction.
Lead study author Nicholas Fried, an MD/PhD student in Dr. Gardner’s laboratory, sadly reiterated arguments that have already been scientifically disproved, saying that the products act as a “gateway” to smoking. “While relatively new to the U.S., heat-not-burn products have become popular in other countries including Japan, Italy, and Korea,” he said.
“These products are often touted as a replacement for cigarettes, but the evidence does not necessarily support that. Almost all Korean users of heat-not-burn products are also current cigarette smokers; nearly half of Italian users had never even smoked a cigarette. These trends worryingly suggest that heat-not-burn may be a compliment or gateway to cigarette smoking, rather than a ‘healthy’ replacement. More troubling, nearly 2% of high school students in the U.S. are already using HNB tobacco products, and surveys show that 25% of students are susceptible to trying them. There is potential for these devices to become a significant public health issue,” added Fried.
Gardner goes on to add that these products are particularly appealing to teens. “Heat-not-burn devices are marketed as a safer alternative to cigarettes for existing smokers. However, as we have learned from vaping and e-cigarettes, these products are very likely to be used by minors and never-smokers due to marketing, flavor options, and lack of social stigma that is found with traditional cigarettes.”
“Use of these products can lead to nicotine addiction and additional clinical, basic science, and epidemiological studies are needed to better understand the health effects of HNB products. This knowledge will assist consumers, physicians, lawmakers, and regulatory bodies in making informed decisions about these products,” conclude the authors.
Heated tobacco products are safer than cigarettes
Meanwhile, a 2018 independent study by renowned cardiologist and anti-smoking expert Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, had analyzed and compared carbonyl emissions from an HnB device, an e-cigarette and a regular cigarette. The study concluded that HNBs are riskier than vaping products, but emit substantially lower levels of carbonyls than regular cigarettes.
Moreover, the “gateway theory” that the LSU researchers are referring to has been disproved multiple times. In line with previous studies looking into the theory, the recent review titled, “Does the gateway theory justify a ban on nicotine vaping in Australia?,” has debunked itonce again.
Review authors Colin Mendelsohn and Wayne Hall pointed out that a more plausible explanation as to why young people who vape are more likely to smoke, are personality factors. This means that those teens who vape tend to be risk-takers and are therefore also more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, use cannabis and other substances, as well have unprotected sex. This argument has already been emphasized by other experts in multiple studies.
About the Gateway Theory
The Key findings from the present study were as follows:
- “Smoking usually precedes vaping. At least 70-85% of teen smokers try vaping after having already started smoking.
- Most vaping by adolescents is experimental and infrequent
- Regular vaping is rare among non-smokers. Regular vaping by non-smokers is generally 1% or less in Australian and international surveys.
- Many adolescent vapers use flavourings only and do not use nicotine. Nicotine addiction is rare in vapers who don’t smoke. In the US, <4% of non-smoking youth who vape have symptoms of nicotine dependence.
- Some adolescents use vaping to quit smoking.
- Youth smoking rates have declined rapidly in the UK and US since the introduction of vaping, making it very unlikely that is increasing youth smoking. It is more likely that vaping is diverting some high-risk teens away from smoking to a safer alternative”
Read Further: EurekAlert!