Scientists Get Serious About Measuring E-cig Puffs

Scientists Get Serious About Measuring E-cig Puffs Michal Fludra/Corbis via Getty Images

Perhaps you've heard — vaping is better for you than smoking. Or wait. That's not right — vaping is just as terrible for you as smoking.

Or maybe we should all just agree that not inhaling anything into our lungs is the right path, because there's certainly enough conflicting information about the health or harm of electronic cigarettes.

But that's not just because everyone is a busybody with their own beliefs. Vaping is a relatively new phenomenon, and that means that comprehensive studies are just coming out, and still taking place. And what's more, before we understand how harmful vaping is, we have to agree how people actually vape.

British American Tobacco and Nicoventures have developed a test that will help determine the "topography" of e-cigarette vapor — that includes the volume and duration, including interval times and flow. Because there are a variety of devices on the market from single-use disposable to rechargeable varieties, there's been no consensus for what an average e-cigarette or vaping user inhales and discharges in a realistic setting.

Scientists made adjustments to the topography device normally used with regular cigarettes by accounting for condensation, flow rate differences and number of puffs measured. After using the topography tool on 60 e-cigarette users using two different vaping instruments, they found that the modified device was accurate.

It's good news for those looking to study the effects or behavior of vaping. With an accurate measurement of e-cigarette use and output, researchers can more easily get the answers we need about how vaping affects health.