E-cigarettes are so dangerous and addictive governments should consider banning vaping, cardiologists have warned.
As vaping rates around the world rise, new research has suggested the habit could damage the brain, heart, blood vessels and lungs.
Researchers said an entire generation risks risks becoming hooked on nicotine as e-cigarettes are so addictive.
Their warning comes a day after British teenager Ewan Fisher urged people to not vapeafter he nearly died from “catastrophic” respiratoryfailure.
E-cigarettes, which are battery-powered, work by heating a liquid – which typically contains nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin and flavors – into an aerosol that the user inhales and exhales.
Professor Thomas Munzel, lead researcher from the cardiology department at the University Medical Center in Mainz, Germany, said e-cigarettes are so dangerous and addictive countries should consider banning them.
Public Health England (PHE) insists e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than smoking.
But Prof Munzel and his colleagues said there is only a “paucity of evidence” to support claims e-cigarettes are a “healthy” alternative to smoking or that they help people quit.
The new study, published in the European Heart Journal, looked at the effect of e-cigarette vapor on blood flow and stiffness in the brachial artery in the upper arm in 20 smokers before they vaped and 15 minutes after.
They also exposed 151 mice to e-cigarette vapor over one, t hree or five days, for 20 minutes six times a ***.
Their results found one vaping episode increased heart rates and caused the arteries to stiffen, and the inner lining of the arteries – the endothelium – stopped working properly in smokers.
In the mice, blood vessels, including in the lungs and brain, appeared to become damaged.
Prof Munzel said: “Our data may indicate that e-cigarettes are not a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes, and their perceived ‘safety’ is not warranted.
” In addition, we still have no experience about the health side effects of e-cigarettes arising from long-term use.
“The e-cigarette epidemic in the US and Europe, in particular among our youth, is causing a huge generation of nicotine-addicted people who are being endangered by encouragement to switch from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes.
“Research like ours should serve as a warning about their dangers, and aggressive steps should be taken to protect our children from health risks caused by e-cigarettes.
“We cannot allow an entire generation to become addicted to nicotine.”
US studies suggest more than 3.6 million children use e-cigarettes, while in the UK a report commissioned by PHE showed the number of children and young people vaping is increasing.
In 2018, 11 % of of 11 to 18 – year-olds had tried e-cigarettes once or twice at some point – almost double the 6.5% in 2014.
And 3.4% of those polled in 2018 reported using e-cigarettes currently – more than double the 1.6% in 2014.
Commenting on the new study, Deborah Arnott, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health, said: “The short-term effects of e-cigarettes on arterial stiffness are very similar to drinking coffee, taking exercise or watching horror movies.
” While vaping isn’t risk free, it’s much less risky than smoking, which kills over 250 people a day in the UK.
“Vapers shouldn’t be scared back to smoking – that would be a real public health tragedy.”
But Martin McKee, professor European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the study was “an excellent piece of detective work”.
He said it showed the concentration of acrolein is nine times higher in e-cigarette vapor than in the liquid itself – and it is that substance damaging the arteries’ function.
“This should be a wake-up call for those who, despite growing evidence to the contrary, continue to promote these products, “he said.