A study conducted in Italy has found that e-cigarette use could reverse some of the harms caused by tobacco smoking in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The study was led by Dr Riccardo Polosa of the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at the University of Catania.

Investigators evaluated the respiratory health of 44 COPD patients.

Half of the group had either significantly reduced their tobacco intake with the aid of e-cigarettes or had switched completely, while the other half smoked tobacco but did not use e-cigarettes.

Researchers found that COPD patients who used e-cigarettes experienced several positive long-term effects, including:

  • A 91 percent reduction in daily cigarette use at one-year follow-up
  • A reduction in respiratory infections and other COPD symptoms
  • Improved general health and physical activity
  • A smoking relapse rate of just eight percent

Contrary to the widely-held belief that dual users do not benefit from e-cigarettes unless they switch completely, the researchers found that this group reduced their daily cigarette intake by at least 75 percent and experienced improved respiratory health and quality of life.

The authors said:

“Quitting smoking is a key strategy not only to prevent the onset of COPD but also to stop its progression to more severe disease stages. Given that many COPD patients continue smoking despite their symptoms, the electronic cigarette could be an effective and safe alternative to the tobacco cigarettes also in this vulnerable population.”