Since their increased popularity there seems to be on a monthly basis a release of scare stories in regards to e-cigarettes. It’s hard to know who publishes them, tobacco giants who are losing sales to them or the government who are losing tax revenues as conventional cigarette sales drop. This week in the news, we find that e-cigarette smokers could be at risk from deadly superbugs because according to scientists vapour helps deadly bacteria to thrive.
A recent study found that the vapour from electronic-cigarettes could harbour deadly superbugs and make them more toxic. MRSA is a huge problem in hospitals as many strains become untreatable and in some lead to death, so news that you could pick up MRSA from e-cigs is pretty shocking. Apparently the vapour puts bacteria on the defensive which makes these deadly bugs even harder to kill, plus inhaling the nicotine vapour diminishes body’s ability to fight any infection.
Researcher Laura Crotty Alexander said: ‘As healthcare professionals, we are always being asked by patients “Would this be better for me?” In the case of smoking e-cigarettes, I hated not having an answer. While the answer is not black and white, our study suggests a response: even if e-cigarettes may not be as bad as tobacco, they still have measurable detrimental effects on health.’
The latest study by American researchers looked into what happens when the MRSA superbug is exposed to e-cigarette vapour. This required researchers to test the vapour in petri dishes to see what bugs we present in the vapour. Although produced in dishes, it could still mimic e-cigarette smokers as MRSA often lurks in the throat and nose and throat and can strike when someone is vulnerable. The amounts of MRSA in the vapour similar to those found in e-cigarettes was more powerful than usual strains.
Dr Crotty told an American Thoracic Society conference: ‘The virulence of MRSA is increased by e-cigarette vapour.’
However it should be noted when similar tests were carried out on regular cigarettes they were found to fuel MRSA more so than the electronic counterparts.
Those against e-cigarettes, have raised concerns that they are not much safer to smoke than regular cigarettes and also that these items may also glamourize smoking and encourage children to take up smoking. So far there is no proof of this, however the constant scare stories may put people off using these devices, which have been found to aid quitting smoking in the long run.
Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said recently: ‘We are normalising e-cigarettes. If they were regulated as a medicine and we knew what was in them and the dose of nicotine, then they might play a useful role in stopping smoking. But they aren’t, so at the moment we don’t know their safety or dose they deliver. Flavourings are often attractive to children – cookies and cream and bubblegum. They are sold rather cheaply and many are made in China, so I worry about what’s in them. I am also worried about once again making smoking seem like a normal activity.’