More Evidence Supports Both Potential Benefits and Dangers of E-Cigarettes

December 17, 2014|1:59 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

E-cigarette as harm-reduction tool versus e-cigarette as the gateway to nicotine addiction: this blistering debate is nowhere near finished. Slowly but surely, though, a steady stream of research will help shape this debate with science and evidence-based reasoning.

Two recently released studies put this part of the e-cigarette debate on naked display. A Cochrane review on e-cigarettes led to two main conclusions: (1) Using e-cigarettes increased the chances that a tobacco user would stop smoking traditional cigarettes, and (2) using e-cigarettes helped more smokers reduce the number of traditional cigarettes they used. The researchers said there was not enough evidence to know if e-cigarettes were more or less effective than other nicotine-delivery treatments such as the patch or gum.

At the same time, the National Institute of Health's Monitoring the Future Survey, conducted by the University of Michigan, e-cigarette use among teenagers appears to be increasingly rapidly. Among 8th graders, 9 percent reported using an e-cigarette in the last month versus 4 percent reporting using a traditional cigarette; among 10th graders, 16 percent reported using an e-cigarette versus 7 percent for a traditional cigarette.

There are more sides to the e-cigarette debate, not the least of which is that it is unknown if the vapor being inhaled during their use poses health risks. More study on all aspects is ongoing and much welcomed, even as public health groups, including ASTHO, propose that until more is known about the potential risks and benefits, that e-cigarettes should be regulated.

For more information, see ASTHO's e-cigarette page