Electronic vapor cigarettes have been touted as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes, with researchers at Purdue University finding that they emit fewer carcinogens than conventional cigarettes.

But researchers at the university also say the devices are also less effective than traditional cigarettes.

The new research shows that the electron emission from electronic vapor cigarettes is lower than what is seen from conventional cigarettes, and also that the electronic vapor product is more effective at delivering nicotine.

The findings were published online Aug. 15 in the journal Chemical & Engineering News.

“These results provide evidence that the use of electronic vapor products has potential to reduce cigarette smoking rates,” said the paper’s lead author, Andrew S. Rader, a Purdue University professor of chemistry.

“We believe that these results will be important for the future development of electronic cigarettes.”

A paper in ACS Chemical Neuroscience, titled “Evaluation of E-Vapor from Electronic Vaporizers,” shows that e-cigarette vapor emitted less than 1 percent of the carcinogenic emissions from conventional cigarette smoke.

In contrast, electronic vapor emitted 3.6 percent of that, with nicotine levels measured to be about 4,000 times lower than the level seen from cigarettes.

“It’s a very good indication of the emissions from e-cigarettes,” Rader said.

“Electronic vapor can emit much lower levels of carcinogens and other toxicants than conventional tobacco cigarettes.”

The paper also looked at the effects of the vapor on the lungs of mice.

“The study found that electronic vapor produced lung cancer-causing amounts of carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, carbon monotransferase and aldehyde,” said lead author Andrew S Rader.

“That is very similar to what you would see from regular cigarette smoke.”

S. Raja, the paper lead author and assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue, said that the study was not designed to evaluate the health risks of e-cig use.

“However, we have an understanding that the smoke from electronic cigarettes is significantly less harmful to human health than conventional smoke,” he said.

S.R. said the researchers had found that a high concentration of nicotine can cause tumors, and it is unclear if e-cigs contain enough nicotine to produce cancer.

“In order to address this issue, we need to look at the long-term effects of e.cig use and whether the vapor has carcinogenic effects,” he added.

The researchers are now conducting additional studies to determine whether there is an interaction between e-liquid composition and tobacco smoking.


Sadek, a professor of medicine at Purdue who has been studying electronic cigarette use, said he expects the results to be replicated in larger studies.

“I would expect the evidence to be more convincing in larger, more well-designed studies,” Sadeg said.

The research was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

A team led by Rader was led by Jennifer J. McEwen, a former postdoctoral researcher at Purdue.

The other authors are Michael M. Crain, an associate professor of chemical engineering and biochemistry, and David L. Johnson, a graduate student in electrical and computer engineering.

The work was funded by the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health.

The American Lung Association supports research to advance lung health and quality of life through education and public-private partnerships.

For more information, visit the American Lung Foundation.