Vaping – Health harms: evidence briefing

This briefing provides an overview of known health harms caused by vaping and existing research gaps on long-term effects of vaping and health risks for the youngest vapers.

Key findings

The systematic reviews and meta-analyses examined for this briefing highlight a number of known health harms associated with vaping. In particular, there is agreement in the sources that:

  • vaping products cause addiction to nicotine;
  • vaping causes health harms (e.g. due to addiction and/or exposure to toxicants) in non-smokers to which they would not otherwise have been exposed;
  • vaping is less harmful than smoking when smokers completely switch to e-cigarettes.

The examined sources also identify developing fields of research requiring further investigation. In particular, there is agreement that:

  • more research on dual use (i.e. use of conventional cigarettes in combination with vaping products) is needed, with data suggesting this might pose the same or higher health risks than smoking alone;
  • there is insufficient data on a number of clinical outcomes (e.g. cardiovascular or respiratory disease, and cancer)caused by vaping and biomarkers of potential harms to health cutting across several diseases;
  • there is insufficient evidence on the effects of vaping on pregnant women.

The assessment of health risks from vaping has been complicated by the ever-evolving nature of vaping products and the limited time they have been on the market which currently limit the ability to establish their long-term effects, and by the unfeasibility of experimental research on young people for ethical reasons.



Back to top