Introduction: Due to the uptake in the use of e-cigarettes (ECs), evidence on their health effects is needed to inform health care and policy. Some regulators and health professionals have raised concerns that the respirable aerosols generated by ECs contain several constituents of potential toxicological and biological relevance to respiratory health.
Areas covered: We critically assess published research on the respiratory system investigating the effects of ECs in preclinical models, clinical studies of people who switched to ECs from tobacco cigarettes, and population surveys. We assess the studies for the quality of their methodology and accuracy of their interpretation. To adequately assess the impact of EC use on human health, addressing common mistakes and developing robust and realistic methodological recommendations is an urgent priority. The findings of this review indicate that ECs under normal conditions of use demonstrate far fewer respiratory risks than combustible tobacco cigarettes. EC users and smokers considering ECs have the right to be informed about the relative risks of EC use, and to be made aware that findings of studies published by the media are not always reliable.
Expert opinion: Growing evidence supports the relative safety of EC emission aerosols for the respiratory tract compared to tobacco smoke.