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Research shows electronic cigarettes lower odds to stop smoking by 28%

The manufacturers of electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) have been pitching the idea that smoking e-cigs is better than smoking tobacco cigarettes or cigars. They have also promoted the idea that e-cigs are a way to stop smoking cigarettes or cigars. EMPR, a publication to keep medical practitioners informed of new developments, released an article by Steve Duffy, digital content editor, for EMPR on Jan. 14, 2016 titled “How Effective Are E-Cigarettes in Helping to Quit Smoking?”

Stephen A. Glantz, PhD, professor of medicine at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) was a co-author of the study. The major conclusion is that e-cigs impair quitting smoking cigarettes.

The irony is that quitting smoking is one of the main reasons both adults and kids use e-cigarettes, but the overall effect is less, not more, quitting.

E-cig usage in the US for youths tripled from 2013 to 2014 according to The Lancet Respiratory Medicine article “Electronic cigarettes: more light, less heat needed” that was published on Jan. 14, 2016 by Stephen L Bernstein. The abstract for the full article, which can be purchased for $31.50, outlines some of the problem with e-cigs.

Electronic nicotine delivery systems may not burn, but the controversy surrounding them certainly does. Barely a decade into their manufacture, distribution, and sale, these systems have become the most widespread new nicotine-containing product. Touted by clever marketing as a healthy alternative to cigarette smoking, e-cigarettes have rapidly captured a growing share of the tobacco-using market. In the USA, for example, use of e-cigarettes among adolescents tripled from 2013 to 2014.

The EMPR article outlined how the UCSF study was conducted and the conclusions that were reached from the combination of a very large set of studies.

The UCSF researchers reviewed 38 studies to examine the correlation between e-cigarette use and smoking cessation. They combined the results from this review with a meta-analysis of 20 studies which included control groups of smokers not using e-cigarettes. Data from this analysis revealed that those who used e-cigarettes were 28% less likely to quit than those who did not.

The fact that they are freely available consumer products could be important. The inclusion of e-cigarettes in smoke-free laws and voluntary smoke-free policies could help decrease use of e-cigarettes as a cigarette substitute, and, perhaps, increase their effectiveness for smoking cessation.

The basic facts of e-cigs usage are:

  • E-cigs are an effective device to increase the blood-nicotine levels of users
  • Nicotine is one of the most addictive substances legally sold to users
  • E-cig users become more addicted to nicotine as they continue use. One of the characteristics of any addictive substance is that it takes increased dosages of the substance (nicotine, heroin, cocaine, crack, etc.) to obtain the same level of “satisfaction”.
  • E-cigs are being specifically formulated with flavor agents to appear to younger users from middle school age to those in their early 20s.
  • E-cigs are focused on sale to minors. In Columbus, OH there are two e-cig stores within less than 0.5 miles of Centennial High School. There are thousands of flavors available. A random search on the web provides, Brandy, Bubble Gum, Cappuccino, Champagne, Coffee, Cool Mint Menthol Tobacco, and Cotton Candy, etc. The list goes for 13 pages for this vendor, Viking
  • E-cigs are legally advertised on television, and in print media.
  • E-Cigs are not regulated as tobacco products by the FDA, and they can currently be used in most public places. Some states have banned sales of e-cigs to those under 18, and Hawaii has banned the sale and use of all tobacco products to those below 21.

A new generation of tobacco addicts is being created using e-cigs as the vehicle. E-cigs are dangerous to the health of users. Targeting minors by promoting and selling e-cigs exposes them to nicotine at an earlier age. The nicotine in e-cigs is a cardiovascular constrictor that increases blood pressure, heart rate, and produces cancer in the lungs, kidneys, liver and bladder. The propellant used in e-cigs degrades under high temperatures to irritate lung tissue and can be carcinogenic under some conditions.

The FDA is currently seeking formal jurisdiction over all forms of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The proposed regulations that would have FDA control of all tobacco products, with the prohibitions on e-cigs to match those for cigarettes with regard to public facility use, advertising, sales to minors and flavorings applied to e-cigs were sent to the White House on Oct. 23, 2015. There is major pressure by e-cig manufacturers, e-cig users, and members of Congress to have the White House water down the regulations or delay implementation for e-cigarettes.

There is no indication as of Jan. 16, 2016 that the White House has responded to approve the FDA regulation of e-cigs and all other tobacco products. There is a bill in Congress, HR-2058, that is attempting to override the FDA’s proposed regulation of these products. Call the White House to request that the FDA regulation of all tobacco products are supported and that HR-2058 is rejected. The numbers are 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414.

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