UNC expert weighs in on e-cigarette debate

Rob Tarran, PhD, says much is unknown about the effects of vaping, but data thus far suggest it is not harmless.

As part of its debate series, wallethub.com asked more than a dozen experts to offer their insights on the potential health impact of vaping electronic cigarettes.

Rob Tarran, PhD, heads up the Center for Tobacco Regulatory Science and Lung Health (TCORS) at the UNC School of Medicine. Researchers at his center are among the first to publish data on the potential harmful effects of e-cigarette use. He wrote, in part:

“In the pharmaceutical industry, any drug that is used for human consumption has to undergo extensive toxicological testing [through] a series of clinical trials before it can be considered safe to use. To the best of my knowledge, e-liquids have not undergone any such testing, which to me is a major cause of concern . . . While the constituents of e-liquids (e.g., propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin and flavors) are on the GRAS (generally regarded as safe) list, GRAS compounds have only been tested for safety following oral ingestion. Little is known about their safety following inhalation. As a case in point, diacetyl – a butter flavor that is used in popcorn, amongst other things, and has been shown to be present in e-liquids – causes bronchiolitis obliterans, a deadly destruction of the lung, when inhaled.”

Read Tarran’s complete statement and the insights of other experts at the wallethub blog.

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