BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new study is casting doubts on how much healthier vaping is compared to smoking traditional cigarettes. Researchers say using e-cigarettes can lead to serious health problems, similar to symptoms found in COPD and Cystic Fibrosis.

A team from the University of North Carolina found that e-cigarette users had increased levels of chemicals linked to various lung diseases as well as inflammatory diseases like lupus and psoriasis. The study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, looked at the saliva and mucus of 15 e-cigarette users, 14 smokers, and 15 people who did neither. The results found that in addition to the new chemicals found in people vaping, e-cig users still produced the same byproduct (5AC) smokers did which is associated with bronchitis and asthma.

“There is confusion about whether e-cigarettes are ‘safer’ than cigarettes because the potential adverse effects of e-cigarettes are only beginning to be studied,” said UNC’s Dr. Mehmet Kesimer. “Our results suggest that in some ways using e-cigarettes could be just as bad as smoking cigarettes.” The doctor added that looking at the health effects of vaping and smoking was like comparing apples to oranges. “This research challenges the concept that switching to e-cigarettes is a healthier alternative,” he added.

Some local governments have already begun to crack down on the smoking alternative. The state of New York has placed a ban on vaping in all locations where smoking is already prohibited. The bill, which was signed into state law on October 23, takes effect in November.

Follow @CBSBaltimore on Twitter and like WJZ-TV | CBS Baltimore on Facebook