The mainstream, scientific view that "vaping" is not harmful has been challenged by a new study that has concluded e-cigarettes are "not safe" and cause immediate lung inflammation and damage.
The research, from the Hellenic Cancer Society, surveyed 54 cigarette and e-cigarette smokers between the ages of 18-31, half of whom had healthy lungs, while the other had mild, controlled asthma.
Scientists tested the e-cigarette smokers before, immediately after, 15 minutes and 30 minutes after to measure lung function. Those who smoked e-cigarettes had impaired lung function on breathing tests compared to those who had not vaped and found the results were amplified in asthmatics - a trend which is mirrored in traditional tobacco smokers.
The research, published in the American journal CHEST, concluded e-cigarette smoking "causes acute pulmonary impairment, lasting for less than 30 minutes after smoking."
"E-cigarette smoking (ECS) is not safe. As it happens with cigarette smoking, ECS has more pronounced deleterious effects in asthmatics. Further investigation on long-term effect of ECS is recommended," the authors said in the paper.
The research contradicts mainstream studies that have concluded e-cigarettes pose a significantly smaller health risk.
A report from Public Health England (PHE) released last August found vaping was 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco. Crucially, the report also did not establish a link between e-cigarette use becoming a "gateway" to using traditional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes have become a major tool to quit smoking, although other factors such as being able to vape indoors have proven popular too.
"We know that breathing in substances other than fresh air can irritate or damage the airways, particularly in people living with lung conditions. However, we also know that vaping is far less harmful than smoking, and that thousands of people across the UK have successfully used e-cigarettes to help them quit regular cigarettes," Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said.
"Stopping smoking is the best thing most people with a lung disease can do for their health. We therefore need more research of this kind to be clear on whether e-cigarettes are a safe way of helping them quit."