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Tobacco control news: e-cigarette health risks; decline in Greek smoking rates

E-cigarettes affect airways

A new study finds that electronic cigarettes, marketed as safer alternatives for nicotine fixes than tobacco products, carry health risks of their own. Researchers from the Center for Global Tobacco Control at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), working with colleagues in Greece, asked healthy adult smokers to smoke an electronic cigarette for five minutes. After taking breathing tests, subjects showed signs of airway constriction and inflammation.

“This is the first evidence that just one (e-cigarette) use can have acute physiologic effects,” lead researcher Constantine Vardavas, a visiting scientist at HSPH, told Reuters Health. “More studies on the long-term effects are needed,” he said.

Higher taxes, less smoking

Tax hikes on cigarettes appear to finally be making a dent in the smoking habits of Greeks, who are among the world’s heaviest smokers. Bans on smoking in public places are widely ignored and little enforced, but HSPH’s [[Gregory N. Connolly]] is encouraged by the 16% drop in the number of those lighting up over the past year. Connolly, director of the HSPH Center for Global Tobacco Control, recently presented a report on the “Greek Tobacco Epidemic” at a conference in Athens. He believes that public awareness campaigns about the dangers of tobacco are beginning to make a mark with the Greek people.

Referring to Greek youth, Connolly told the SETimes, “[Foreign tobacco companies] are sending a message that smoking is cool, but it’s killing them.”

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