Vaping is often seen as an alternative to traditional cigarettes, especially for those with lung conditions such as COPD, as it is thought to be less harmful. There is, however, insufficient research available on the effects of vaping for people with COPD.

COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is caused primarily by exposure to cigarette smoke. The condition affects approximately 30 million people in the United States.

Read on to learn more about vaping and COPD, and discover how to quit smoking without using e-cigarettes.

Does vaping cause COPD?

Person smoking e-cigarette or vaping increasing risk of COPD.
People often use e-cigarettes as an alternative to traditional cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are relatively new and the research on their effects, especially the potential long-term effects, is limited.

Vaping products usually contain nicotine, a highly addictive drug, although they do not involve tobacco smoke inhalation. Some vaping products may also contain:

  • cancer-causing substances or carcinogens
  • toxic chemicals
  • toxic metal nanoparticles

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) require warnings on vaping products that contain nicotine and tobacco from 2018 onward.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that vaping is less harmful than smoking conventional cigarettes. But the CDC advise against e-cigarette use by young people, those who are pregnant, or adults who do not currently use tobacco.

The research on vaping and COPD

There is only limited research that has looked at vaping and COPD.

Vaping and lung inflammation

A small study published in 2016, reports that nicotine-containing vaping products trigger lung inflammation and lung tissue damage. COPD development is associated with these effects. Both cultured human lung cells and mice used in the study showed dependency on nicotine over the course of the research.

Vaping and oxidative stress

A 2017 study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, also reports negative findings. The study included 44 participants, a mixture of conventional cigarette smokers, e-cigarette users, and non-smokers.

Researchers discovered proteins in the airways of e-cigarette smokers that are known to contribute to COPD. All smokers in the study showed markers of oxidative stress associated with lung disease.

Vaping and DNA damage

Research published in January 2018 found that mice exposed to e-cigarette vapor displayed DNA damage in the lungs, bladder, and heart. This damage may increase their risk of cancerheart disease, and lung problems.

The researchers added that it was possible that e-cigarette smoke may contribute to similar damage in humans.

Overall research consensus on vaping

More research is needed on the health risks of vaping, especially in relation to COPD and other lung diseases.

It may be best to adhere to the advice of the Lung Institute until then, which does not recommend vaping for anyone, especially for people with COPD or other lung diseases.


The institute say that once a person develops a lung disease, such as COPD, emphysema, or interstitial lung disease, they should not inhale anything other than clean air.

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