Study: E-Cigarettes Offer Far More Benefits Than Harms to Smokers and Bystanders



A new study in the journal Addiction reviewed data on e-cigarette use and their effects on smokers and bystanders. The study abstract reports:

EC [e-cigarette] aerosol can contain some of the toxicants present in tobacco smoke, but at levels which are much lower. Long-term health effects of EC use are unknown but compared with cigarettes, EC are likely to be much less, if at all, harmful to users or bystanders. EC are increasingly popular among smokers, but to date there is no evidence of regular use by never-smokers or by non-smoking children. EC enable some users to reduce or quit smoking.

Allowing EC to compete with cigarettes in the market-place might decrease smoking-related morbidity and mortality. Regulating EC as strictly as cigarettes, or even more strictly as some regulators propose, is not warranted on current evidence. Health professionals may consider advising smokers unable or unwilling to quit through other routes to switch to EC as a safer alternative to smoking and a possible pathway to complete cessation of nicotine use.

In its report on the study, the BBC noted:

Warnings over e-cigarettes are alarmist—and increasing their use could save many lives, researchers have said.

For every million smokers who switch to e-cigarettes, more than 6,000 lives a year could be saved, according to the University College London team. …

Lead researcher Prof Peter Hajek said: "I think any responsible regulator proposing restricting regulation has to balance reducing risks with reducing potential benefits.

"In this case the risks are unlikely, some already proven not to exist, while the benefits are potentially enormous. It really could be a revolutionary intervention in public health if smokers switched from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes.

"So killing benefits, which are huge, for risks which are small is like asking people to stop using mobile phones and tablets, or restrict their use and further development, because of a one in 10 million chance that the battery might overheat in your device."

E-cigarettes not only save the lives of smokers, but prevent conflict in bars, restaurants, and other public venues. And yet, rabid anti-tobacco campaigners unscientifically carry on trying to ban vaping.

For more background, see my colleague Jacob Sullum's excellent articles, "Jay Rockefeller's Vaping Vapors," and "Study Finds E-Cigarette Users Are More Likely to Stop Smoking Than People Who Use Other Methods."

Enjoy Reason TV's "Thank You for Vaping: Libertarians vs. New York City's E-Cig Ban" below.

Hat tip to Ken Constantino.

NEXT: Steven Greenhut on California's Anti-CEO Climate

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  1. Ban it! because we’ll never be able to control it.

    1. You forgot: We don’t yet know what the effects are and we can’t justify taxing the hell out of it yet.

      1. can’t justify taxing the hell out of something, you say?

  2. During the debate on the Duluth e-cig ban, this gem came out:

    “From a distance, I would argue you can’t tell the difference. So how can you go to this one person and say ‘oh, that’s tobacco, you’re out of here’ and ‘oh wait, that’s not, that’s an e-cigarette so you can stay?'” she [Linda Krug, city council member] asked. “Once you start picking and choosing what’s allowed, that’s a slippery slope you go down.”


    1. That is terrifying.

    2. Happy Minnesota Day!

      1. Too many words. All you need to say is Uffda.

    3. I’ve heard this can’t-tell-the-difference argument from people who claim they choke up if someone is smoking on the other side of a football field.

  3. I just walked away from cigarettes after 30 years of smoking. One month today smoke free.

    1. Excellent choice. Stick with it.

    2. Nice work, I can’t imagine quitting after thirty years, four is bad enough.

  4. Day 12 of quitting cold turkey…

    So far, I’ve just been a slightly bigger asshole and yelled at the dogs a lot more. I’ll feel bad about it later. Getting over the muscle memory was actually pretty hard though.

    1. Yep. I’m not sure it was the nicotine as much as it was something to fiddle with while waiting for the bus, waiting for the table at a restaurant, or avoiding a conversation with a moron, etc.

      1. J&E: I know how tough it is. I quit a four pack a day habit (I am not kidding) 28 years ago. Losing the “muscle memory” took a while. Keep it up. It gets lots better.

        1. Since when have we started encouraging quitters? Next we’ll be patting the backs of all the splitters too.

          Where is my medal? I quit masturbating since – well I’m not sure exactly but it was shortly after I got to work this morning.

          1. I quit masturbating when I was about 9 YO. I thought it was something just for little kids, like thumb sucking. Several years later I realized the error of my thinking. Then I was shocked to find my orgasms associated with ejacul’n; previously they’d been anejaculatory or possibly retrograde. What a mess!

            1. I just realized something: I quit masturbating shortly after Mother quit smoking, and I took it up again not too many years after she started again.

              1. Darn. Maybe if I’d gone back to thumb sucking too, I wouldn’t’ve gotten this fat!

  5. eCigs look even cooler than real cigarettes!

  6. EC are increasingly popular among smokers, but to date there is no evidence of regular use by never-smokers

    [hand up]

    Friends who are smokers or ex-smokers think I’m nuts, but I’m trying to use it (with or without nicotine) as an appetite suppressant, and I suspect I’ve felt some improvement in my post-herpetic neuropathy from the nicotine.

  7. Good article! Vape cig really reduces not only the number of tobacco smokers dying every year but also the number of conflicts being pulled around public venues. Hope more cigarette smokers will switch to EC!

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