Background: A few studies have assessed the short-term effects of low-dose nicotine e-cigarettes, while data about nicotine-free e-cigarettes (NF e-cigarettes) are scanty. Concerns have been expressed about the use of NF e-cigarettes, because of the high concentrations of propylene glycol and other compounds in the e-cigarette vapor.
Methods: This laboratory-based study was aimed to compare the effects of ad libitum use of a NF e-cigarette or and a traditional cigarette for 5 min in healthy adult smokers (n = 10) and non-smokers (n = 10). The main outcome measures were pulmonary function tests, fraction of exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) and fractional concentration of carbon monoxide (FeCO) in exhaled breath.
Results: The traditional cigarette induced statistically significant increases in FeCO in both smokers and non-smokers, while no significant changes were observed in FeNO. In non-smokers, the traditional cigarette induced a significant decrease from baseline in FEF75 (81 % ± 35 % vs 70.2 % ± 28.2 %, P = 0.013), while in smokers significant decreases were observed in FEF25 (101.3 % ± 16.4 % vs 93.5 % ± 31.7 %, P = 0.037), FEV1 (102.2 % ± 9.5 % vs 98.3 % ± 10 %, P = 0.037) and PEF (109.5 % ± 14.6 % vs 99.2 % ± 17.5 %, P = 0.009). In contrast, the only statistically significant effects induced by the NF e-cigarette in smokers were reductions in FEV1 (102.2 % ± 9.5 % vs 99.5 ± 7.6 %, P = 0.041) and FEF25 (103.4 % ± 16.4 % vs 94.2 % ± 16.2 %, P = .014).
Discussion: The present study demonstrated that the specific brand of NF e-cigarette utilized did not induce any majoracute effects. In contrast, several studies have shown that both traditional cigarettes and nicotine-containing e-cigarettes have acute effects on lung function. Our study expands on previous observations on the effects of NF e-cigarettes, but also for the first time describes the changes induced by smoking one traditional cigarette in a group of never smokers.
Conclusions: The short-term use of the specific brand of NF e-cigarette assessed in this study had no immediate adverse effects on non-smokers and only small effects on FEV1 and FEF25 in smokers. The long-term health effects of NF e-cigarette use are unknown but worthy of further investigations.
Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT02102191.