“There’s been a lot of questions in the field as to whether e-cigarette and cigarette use is beneficial or damaging or problematic in terms of COVID, and we really haven’t had a good answer,” said lead study author Meghan Rebuli, an assistant professor in the UNC Department of Pediatrics, in an interview as quoted by The News and Observer.
The researchers compared the nasal epithelial lining fluid of smokers, non-smokers and vapers, and found that smokers and vapers showed more changes in the immune genes of their respiratory cells that fight off viruses, than non-smokers. Moreover, smokers and vapers seemed to have a suppressed level of antibodies.
“Our results demonstrate that e-cigarette use altered nasal LAIV-induced immune responses, including gene expression, cytokine and chemokine release, and LAIV-specific IgA levels. Together, these data suggest that e-cigarette use induces changes in the nasal mucosa consistent with the potential for altered respiratory antiviral host defense function,” read the study Abstract.
However, the researchers failed to specify whether the vaping participants were previous smokers (as is the case in most vapers) or even dual users. Therefore given findings from previous studies, many harm reduction experts would argue that the negative response could have been caused by the lingering effects of past smoking.
Ex-Smoking COPD patients who switched to e-cigs experienced improved health
Meanwhile, following up on findings published two years ago, a recent study led by award winning and renowned expert in tobacco harm reduction Prof. Riccardo Polosa, confirmed that smokers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who switched to vaping, reported improved respiratory symptoms, in comparison to those who continued to smoke.
Titled “Health effects in COPD smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes: a retrospective-prospective 3-year follow-up”, the earlier study followed 44 patients for a period of three years. The participants were split in two groups, those who switched from smoking to vaping and the ones that kept on smoking. The compiled data indicated that the COPD patients who switched reported improved respiratory symptoms, while those who continued to smoke, experienced no change.
Following up on these same COPD patients two years later, the latest study, “COPD smokers who switched to e-cigarettes: health outcomes at 5-year follow up,” found that the vaping group experienced a reduction of about 50% in flare ups, a significantly improved their cardio-respiratory health, and increased exercise ability and quality of life.