If you trawl the net, you’ll find there’s little data on how ecigarettes effect your lungs.

So, with some help from researcher Paul Bergen and vaping bloggers (and from lots of you lovely readers!) I asked vapers how switching to electronic cigarettes had affected their smoker’s cough, ability to exercise and do strenuous jobs and lung capacity.

I’m leaving the detailed analysis to scientist and researcher Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, who has generously agreed to analyse the results without requesting any payment, but thought you might to look at a summary of the results.

Update: Read Dr Farsalinos’ analysis here.

Chart 1: How Long Have People Been Using Electronic Cigarettes? 

We asked:

How long have you been using electronic cigarettes:

Graph showing how long people have been using ecigarettes.

Obviously, the less time you have been vaping the less likely it is to have any effect on your health.

It’s interesting, though, that nearly 40% of those surveyed have been vaping for more than a year. That’s very different from the survey we carried out with the University of Alberta in 2009, when most vapers had only been using electronic cigarettes for a short period of time.

Chart 2: Change In Smoking Habits After Switching To Ecigs. 

We asked:

Which of the following is true:

  • After switching to ecigs, you smoked fewer tobacco cigarettes (or stopped smoking tobacco altogether).
  • After switching to ecigs, you smoked more tobacco cigarettes.
  • You didn’t smoke before using ecigs.

Graph showing smoking habits after switching to ecigs.

Although the survey is focussed on health improvements, it’s heartening to see only 4 people claimed they smoked more after switching to ecigs. I was surprised, though, to see 17 people who hadn’t smoked before starting to use e-cigarettes.

Chart 3: Vaping v. Smoking 

We asked:

Do you:

  • vape daily and only vape
  • vape mostly with the occasional or rare cigarette
  • still smoke, but vape more than you smoke
  • still smoke, and smoke more than you vape

Graph showing vaping and smoking habits after smoking.

This question is important, because we need to see if any health improvements are greater among people who only use electronic cigarettes. (I am going to leave the cross analysis to Dr Farsalinos, though!)

Again, it’s not the focus of the survey, but it’s good to see that 77% have stopped using tobacco cigarettes entirely, and 15% only have the occasional cigarette.

Chart 4 Smoker’s Cough After Switching

We asked:

If you had a recurring cough before switching to electronic cigarettes:

  • is the cough worse?
  • is the cough unchanged?
  • has the cough got better or disappeared?
  • question not applicable

Graph showing change in severity of smoker's cough after switching.

The results were clear: almost two thirds (63.9%) felt that their smoker’s cough was better after switching to ecigarettes. Less than 3.4% felt that the cough was worse or unchanged.

Chart 5: Ability to Exercise After Switching To Vaping

We asked:

Has your ability to exercise:

  • got worse
  • improved
  • stayed the same
  • question not applicable

Graph showing vaper's ability to exercise after switching.

Great news if you like sport – 72.9% of vapers reported an improved ability to exercise after switching.

Chart 6: Ability to Do Strenuous Jobs After Switching to Vaping

We asked:

Has your ability to do strenuous jobs (e.g. gardening, lifting, housework e.t.c.):

  • got worse
  • got better
  • stayed the same
  • question not applicable

Graph showing how respondent's ability to do strenuous jobs changed after switching to vaping.

Of course, some people don’t exercise – but nearly all of us have to do housework. So we wanted to know how vapers’ ability to do tiring jobs had changed.

Over 66% of vapers had experienced an improvement in ability to do strenuous jobs, although this did not match the number of people who reported an improvement in the ability to exercise.

Chart 7: Lung Capacity After Switching to Electronic Cigarettes

We asked:

If you are aware of your lung capacity, has it:

  • got worse
  • improved
  • stayed the same
  • question not applicable

Graph showing respondent's changes in lung capacity after switching to ecigs.

The aim of the survey was to work out what the effect of electronic cigarettes on the lungs were, so this was the most important question! The results were amazing – over 70% reported an improvement in lung capacity.

Chart 8: Were Changes in Lung Capacity Confirmed by a Doctor?

We asked:

Have changes in lung capacity been confirmed by a doctor:

  • yes 
  • no
  • question not applicable

Graph showing how changes in lung capacity were confirmed by doctor.

Assessing your change in lung capacity is a more subjective question than most of the questions here.

But from conversations with vapers I know some have had their lung capacity measured, usually because of existing health problems.

22.2% of the vapers told us that changes in lung capacity had been confirmed by a doctor, which I hope will be useful when assessing the validity of the results.

(Fewer people answered this question, as we used skip logic so that people who had answered not applicable to the question eight jumped to the end of the survey.)

Potential Problems With This Survey:

Of course, as Professor Carl Philips recently pointed out, all open surveys have problems. I am sure Dr Konstantinos will point out more, but to my mind some of the biggest problems with this survey are:

1. As participants were recruited by social media, vaping forums and blogs, many participants are likely to be enthusiastic vapers which may lead to bias in subjective questions.

2. At the same time, there is also a danger that:

  • those who don’t like vaping will deliberately answer questions to throw vaping in a negative light
  • people may misread the questions, especially if they are completing the survey in a hurry

3. Ideally, this study would be carried out by a University or a Doctor – the only reason we did it was because the data was simply not out there.

Nevertheless, the results are fascinating, back up anecdotal evidence – and hopefully will inspire further research.

Source: http://www.ecigarettedirect.co.uk/ashtray-blog/2013/04/how-electronic-cigarettes-affect-lungs.html


  1. All I can say is I am finished coughing up junk and my nonsmoking wife says I no longer wheeze especially while sleeping. I seem to have much better wind and its only been 3 months.

  2. This is the only thing that has EVER helped me quit nasty cigarettes and stay quit! It’s the best stop smoking thing ever invented! It has totally changed my entire life! Thank you! 🙂

  3. I have been vaping for a month and haven’t had a cigarette since the day I started. I tried chantax and was able to cut down I vaporize drastically less and my lungs have improve dramatically over the past month ( Dr. confirmed 10 yr pack a day smoker who has had asthma since I was a child (I was 10 when I started smoking and am now 35 and hoping to quit inhaling anything still vaping high not extra high nicotine mixed with a no nicotine flavor my brand does not make a low nicotine yet)

    • That should say 10 Dollar pack a day smoker I was trying the chantax and was being monitored with that due to depression risks associated with taking chantax when I asked dr about ecigarette she explained that she would look into it but we could also monitor for any side effects that vaping may cause Dr. Is extremely happy with progress my nicotine levels are down so I’m definitely smoking less but like Dr. says better to not be inhaling anything so I’m still working on that

  4. After smoking for 35 years, my wife brought me a vaping kit in June of 2014; I haven’t smoked a cigarette since (almost 2 years!). I vape more often than I smoked (I use the vape device like an all-day sucker!). My morning coughing fits were gone after 2 months of vaping. I have reduced the nicotine content from 18mg in the beginning, to now only 6mg and looking to change to 3mg. I can now climb the stairs to our second floor bedroom without thinking I need a few hits from an oxygen bottle! The only negative side effect that I have experienced is some weight gain (probably 20 lbs!!) because food tastes better and I want more of it! My clothes and body no longer reek of cigarette smoke. The expense of vaping is FAR less than smoking and I can breathe deeper than I can ever remember and not have my lungs feeling as though they’re about to explode! Not sure who invented the modern vaping devices, but I may just owe them for several years of better health!


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