September 19, 2019 | 49° F

Study finds mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor are more likely to contract viruses

Photo by Edwin Gano |

A recent study from Johns Hopkins University reveals the negative impact of electronic cigarettes on the immune system of mice when exposed to e-cig vapor. EDWIN GANO / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Two weeks ago, talk show comedian John Oliver made waves after spending a large part of his show talking about the tobacco industry and the innately harmful nature of the plant it manufactures.

While many agree cigarettes are a detriment to health, others are unsure about the impact of electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes, often called e-cigs, are commonly believed to have fewer harmful effects on health when compared to traditional cigarettes, according to The Verge.

The vapor is not as harsh, the smell is not as obtrusive and advertisers claim cigarettes are more harmful than e-cigs. Many people inhabiting cities or college campuses might notice how e-cigarette use has spiked in recent months, according to The Verge.

The presumed health benefits of switching to e-cigs may just be a fog distracting us from the truth, according to a recent study from Johns Hopkins University.

According to the study, mice exposed to vapor from e-cigarettes had impaired immune systems, and their lungs were less capable of fending off viral and bacterial infections when compared to mice not exposed to the vapor.

The study also found harmful molecules, known as free radicals, were also present in the vapor, according to scientific journal PLOS One.

The team behind the study exposed mice to electronic cigarette vapor over a two-week period, with a control group not exposed to the vapor, according to PLOS One. There were no mice exposed to conventional cigarette smoke.

The research only dealt with one brand of e-cigs, specifically Njoy, according to PLOS One. There are dozens of other comparable products on the market that may or may not have different combinations of chemicals.

According to the study, another area of concern is how animals will not naturally vape or smoke like humans, so complex apparatuses might need to be constructed to simulate the effects of e-cigs in this type of study.

According to a similar study, released in January and published in a letter to The New England Journal of Medicine, vaping at high voltages actually results in high levels of formaldehyde, a well-documented carcinogen.

Because e-cigs don’t produce smoke or tar, there is a common perception among both physicians and the public that e-cigs are a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, according to The New England Journal of Medicine.

Consistent with this finding, cigarette use among teens is at an all time low, according to

But in December 2014, USA TODAY reported that teen electronic cigarette use had not only reached an all-time peak, but had surged past regular cigarette use among teens.

According to USA TODAY, 29 percent of high school students living in Hawaii have tried electronic cigarettes compared to a mere 15 percent of students who have tried traditional cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes led users to adopt use patterns that differ from established cigarette norms — namely, going outside to smoke. An intense discourse over whether or not it is okay to vape indoors has tightly followed the rise of e-cigs, according to USA Today.

E-cigs should be treated the same as regular cigarettes, said Mary Kate Riecks, a Rutgers alumna.

“It might just be vapor, but enough of the same chemicals and nicotine are there,” she said. “There’s definitely a noticeable smell. It’s still rude to do it inside.”

There is a common perception of how cigarettes are more harmful to your health than e-cigarettes, but that does not mean e-cigs do not pose a threat to your health, according to The Verge.

Until more information and studies become available, it’s still in one’s best interest to avoid running the risk of burning a hole in your future.

Tyler Gold

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