Unintended Side Effects of Electronic Cigarettes in Otolaryngology: A Scoping Review

Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2022 Jan 4;1945998211069502. doi: 10.1177/01945998211069502. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Electronic cigarettes (E-cigs) are nicotine delivery systems with increasing popularity. The US Food and Drug Administration defines side effects as unwanted or unexpected events or reactions. Our objective was to examine the unintended otolaryngology-related side effects associated with E-cigs.

Data sources: Medline, EMBASE, CINAHL, Web of Science, and CENTRAL databases.

Review methods: Study selection was independently performed by 2 authors in accordance with the PRISMA-ScR statement (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews); discrepancies were resolved by the senior author. English studies from database inception to May 1, 2020, with a sample size >5 were included. In vitro, animal, and lower respiratory tract studies were excluded. The main outcome was defined as otolaryngology-related side effects following E-cig use. Levels of evidence per the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine were used to determine study quality.

Results: From 1788 articles, 32 studies were included. The most common unintended side effects were throat irritation (n = 16), cough (n = 16), mouth irritation (n = 11), and oral mucosal lesions (n = 8). A large proportion of participants also reported conventional tobacco use in addition to E-cigs. Eight studies investigated the effectiveness of vaping on smoking cessation. The quality of the literature was level 2 to 4. Given the significant heterogeneity in the studies, meta-analysis was not performed.

Conclusion: The most reported side effects were throat and mouth irritation, followed by cough. The long-term impact of E-cigs is not known given the recent emergence of this technology. Future studies are warranted.

Keywords: adverse effects; electronic cigarettes; otolaryngology; scoping review; side effects; vaping.