A new study of the health impacts of vaping published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine has found that vaping is, by itself, a significant risk factor for the development of respiratory disease.

For the study, researchers analyzed data of 32,320 participants from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study, a population-based study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The researchers noted whether the study subjects had respiratory disease, vaped, and/or used cigarettes or other combustible tobacco products.

Over a course of two years, researchers looked for the development of respiratory disease within the study subject groups, adjusting for age, BMI, poverty level, and smoking. They found that those who vaped and had respiratory disease at baseline were at a significantly higher risk of advancing respiratory disease.

Vaping was also found to be a significant risk among participants who vaped but had no respiratory disease. Even after controlling for the same variables, researchers found a significant association between vaping and the rate of respiratory disease among this group.

The study also showed that the subjects who had respiratory disease at baseline were significantly more likely to vape in the future. For years the vape industry has promoted vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking when, in actuality, vaping can promote respiratory disease independently.

The data further showed that subjects who both vaped and used combustible tobacco were at alarmingly higher odds of developing respiratory disease than the other study groups. Because many smokers have the impression that vaping is safer than smoking, they may vape as a way of cutting back on cigarettes.

However, both vaping and smoking are independent risk factors and pose substantially higher odds of respiratory disease than either vape or tobacco use alone.

According to Pharmacy Times, more than 90% of vapers in the study also reported using cigarettes or some other form of combustible tobacco.

“This study highlights the respiratory risks of e-cigarette use and reveals alarming patterns in dual usage of e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco,” Pharmacy Times explained. “As vaping continues to grow in popularity, it becomes increasingly critical to correct misconceptions about its safety and long-term effects. Health care providers should counsel patients accordingly, and should not recommend e-cigarettes for smoking cessation.”

Beasley Allen lawyers Joseph VanZandt and Sydney Everett, together with Mass Torts Section Head Andy Birchfield, are currently representing several individuals who are suing the top U.S. vape maker JUUL for the negative impact its products have had on their lives. They also have filed lawsuits on behalf of school districts nationwide, which seek to protect students and recover resources spent fighting the vaping epidemic.

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