A new scientific study has revealed that smokers who switch to vaping may be more likely to improve their health and well-being over those who choose cigarettes.
Research by the University of Washington has shown adult cigarette users who had shifted to vaping in their 30s reported to be more focused on “better health and wellbeing”.
Smokers who opt to vape may also have “more opportunities for healthy social engagement” - thus promoting “healthier aging among nicotine users approaching midlife”, the study also found.
The research looked at 156 smokers and monitored changes in “health and social functioning” between the ages of 30 and 39.
Of the 156 study participants, 64% smoked only combustible cigarettes when they reached 39, 28% smoked and vaped, while eight percent only vaped.
One-third of smokers at the start of the experiment had shifted to e-cigarettes “some or all the time” within the following nine years - and it was this group that was found to have better engagement with health-promoting activities and lifestyle.
The study’s outline explained:
“Many adult smokers have tried electronic cigarettes as a less harmful alternative to combustible cigarettes. There is limited evidence, however, for the extent to which switching to e-cigarettes is associated with better health and functioning among nicotine users approaching their 40s - the beginning of midlife - when many health issues become more evident.
“This study examined the adoption of e-cigarette use (vaping) among smokers in their 30s and its association with diverse measures of healthy and successful aging at age 39.”
The survey results showed that when the participants were asked about their lifestyles, those that vaped frequently, over smoking, associated themselves with better physical health, more exercise, more active social engagement and higher socioeconomic status.
No association, however, was found with better mental health, less frequent use of other substances such as alcohol or if a partner or “close peer” smoked or not.
Marina Epstein, a research scientist with the Social Development Research Group in the University of Washington School of Social Work, the study’s co-author, said of the results:
“Despite the obvious risks to non-smokers, e-cigarettes have the potential to play a health-promoting role in the lives of smokers."
“Although the study cannot show a causal relationship, we think that because e-cigarettes have less stigma, less odor and are less physically harmful, they may increase health-promoting opportunities among smokers.”
“E-cigarette users may be more likely to be in settings that promote physical activity and have more opportunities to interact with non-smokers.”
Published in ‘Drug and Alcohol Dependence’, the study - which was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute on Drug Abuse - drew the information from a larger longitudinal study, the Seattle Social Development Project, which started in 1985 and followed 800 children as fifth-graders in Seattle elementary schools.
The researchers at the University of Washington focused on its 156 participants who reported smoking at 30 and later to smoking or vaping at 39. The emergence of vaping in the study began in the mid-2000s when many of the participants turned 30 and when e-cigarettes first appeared in the US, thus making vaping an element in the social development study.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) wrote of the findings which it published on it’s EurekAlert website:
“Overall, the researchers stress that e-cigarettes still have substantial public health downsides, but this study shows that smokers who turn to vaping, whether occasionally or instead of cigarettes, may have more opportunities for healthier lifestyle choices. That doesn’t mean vaping is healthy, they say, but that for people who already smoke — and are unable to quit — it can be associated with other healthy routines.”