The objective of this study was to compare the short-term respiratory effects due to the inhalation of electronic and conventional tobacco cigarette-generated mainstream aerosols through the measurement of the exhaled nitric oxide (eNO). To this purpose, twenty-five smokers were asked to smoke a conventional cigarette and to vape an electronic cigarette (with and without nicotine), and an electronic cigarette without liquid (control session).
Electronic and tobacco cigarette mainstream aerosols were characterized in terms of total particle number concentrations and size distributions. On the basis of the measured total particle number concentrations and size distributions, the average particle doses deposited in alveolar and tracheobronchial regions of the lungs for a single 2-s puff were also estimated considering a subject performing resting (sitting) activity.
Total particle number concentrations in the mainstream resulted equal to 3.5 ± 0.4 × 109, 5.1 ± 0.1 × 109, and 3.1 ± 0.6 × 109 part. cm−3 for electronic cigarettes without nicotine, with nicotine, and for conventional cigarettes, respectively. The corresponding alveolar doses for a resting subject were estimated equal to 3.8 × 1010, 5.2 × 1010 and 2.3 × 1010 particles.
The mean eNO variations measured after each smoking/vaping session were equal to 3.2 ppb, 2.7 ppb and 2.8 ppb for electronic cigarettes without nicotine, with nicotine, and for conventional cigarettes, respectively; whereas, negligible eNO changes were measured in the control session. Statistical tests performed on eNO data showed statistically significant differences between smoking/vaping sessions and the control session, thus confirming a similar effect on human airways whatever the cigarette smoked/vaped, the nicotine content, and the particle dose received.