Study Finds E-Cigarettes 'Much Safer' Than Conventional Cigarettes

New research suggests electronic cigarettes dramatically reduce tobacco-related harms compared with regular cigarettes, according to a Dec. 16 report in the Boston University School of Public Health Insider.

The findings should alleviate concerns raised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the safety of such products, said Michael Siegel, MD, a professor of community health sciences at Boston University and lead author of the study.

Siegal and colleagues reviewed 16 studies analyzing the chemical components of electronic cigarettes, which simulate the experience of inhaling tobacco smoke while actually delivering nicotine through water vapor.

According to their findings, electronic cigarettes were 1,000 times less carcinogenic than tobacco cigarettes and effectively reduced the urge to light up by simulating actual smoking, which has been shown to help people kick the habit.

In fact, electronic cigarettes were no more toxic than other nicotine-replacement products, such as patches and gum.

“The FDA and major anti-smoking groups keep saying that we don't know anything about what is in electronic cigarettes,” said Siegel. “The truth is, we know a lot more about what is in electronic cigarettes than regular cigarettes.”

Banning electronic cigarettes — a move under consideration by the FDA with the support of such anti-smoking heavy hitters as the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association — would be a mistake, according to Siegal.

“Why would the FDA and the anti-smoking groups want to take an action that is going to seriously harm the public's health? The only ones who would be protected by a ban on e-cigarettes are the tobacco companies,” he said.

“[T]hese new products represent the first real threat to their profits in decades.”

The review was published online Dec. 9 in the Journal of Public Health Policy.

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