COPD, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is a lung disease linked to smoking. In fact, 8 out of every 10 COPD-related deaths are caused by smoking. The airways of people with COPD become progressively inflamed and thicken, making it harder for people to breathe. Unfortunately, when damage like this is done, the lungs aren’t able to heal themselves so the disease only gets worse over time.
A 3-year study by the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine wanted to see if electronic nicotine delivery products (like vapes or e-cigarettes) were effective in helping COPD patients or patients at risk for COPD quit or cut back on the damage smoking cigarettes causes. Researchers theorized that patients would have fewer COPD symptoms after switching to e-devices, but e-devices were found to not be beneficial at all. Symptoms were even worse for people who used traditional cigarettes and e-devices and those people were actually less likely to reduce or quit their cigarette use.
We don’t have enough research on the long-term health effects of e-devices and it remains to be seen if they’re an effective harm reduction strategy or not. But this study suggests that people with COPD symptoms wanting to use e-devices to lessen their symptoms might be barking up the wrong tree.