VCU lab studying effects of vaping, e-cigarettes share recommendations with FDA

Health

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University is working to better understand the possible dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes. The university’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products has been closely examining the issue for years.

With smoking alternatives becoming more popular, restrictions on vaping products may get even tighter. VCU and the Food and Drug Administration have been working very closely to create new regulations to keep people safe.

“I wouldn’t encourage anyone to use these products.” Alison Breland, the co-director of VCU’s Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, told 8News.

Breland researches the effects of e-cigarettes and vaping by performing human lab studies.

“We asked individuals to come in and use these different products in the laboratory,” she said. “We want to see exactly how much nicotine is delivered to the blood before and after using a product and we are also very interested in people puffing behaviors. How you puff influences what goes into your body in terms of toxins and nicotine.”

Breathing tests, blood pressure and side effects are all measured in the lab. VCU uses the results of their studies to make recommendations to the FDA. The center has concluded that some e-cigarettes can generate more nicotine than one cigarette.

“One potential regulation that FDA could put into place is to put a cap on how much nicotine is allowed in the liquid,” Breland said.

Regulating how much nicotine goes into a device is on the table, along with taking enticing flavors off the shelves.

“No more creme brulee or mango Juul pods,” Breland told 8News.

Fruity flavors have been linked to the rise in vaping among teens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports at least 55 deaths and hundreds of illnesses related to vaping.

“Are their unintended consequences, do people shift to a different device, do they try to make their own flavors at home, or do they go to the black market,” Breland wondered aloud when speaking with 8News.

Vitamin E Acetate has been targeted as a harmful chemical but Breland worries about other toxins, particularly the ones that create “the cloud of smoke.”

“Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin are safe for ingestion but we don’t know that they’re safe for inhalation,” she said.

Many questions surrounding the safety of vaping remain but it’s recommended to not use vaping products. If you do, the center is always looking for volunteers to be a part of their studies.

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