E-cigarettes may promote tobacco use among young smokers, not proven as safe cessation aid, u.s. studies argue

The idea that e cigarettes are a 100% safe and benign way to replace tobacco and help people reduce or quit smoking is largely unproven, two new studies contend, and the dangers of the substances in e cigarette vapour are unknown.

The first study, published this week in the journal Tobacco Control, examined the reactions of young smokers to seeing an e cigarette being lit up in a public situation.

National Post editorial board E cigarettes will save lives

Electronic cigarettes, or e cigarettes as they are commonly known, heat a liquid that is made out of a couple common food additives, and may or may not contain nicotine. The heated vapour, when inhaled, mimics the practice of smoking, without all the carcinogens found in tobacco smoke. Because e cigarettes duplicate many of the habitual actions, social experiences and often the nicotine delivery of tobacco, they have helped many give up tobacco products entirely.

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Sixty young people in the study were told they were being tested on their responses to a variety of social interactions. They were paired with an actor, pretending to be a participant, who would smoke an e cigarette or a regular cigarette while having a conversation. The actual study subjects were measured for their urge to smoke at multiple points before and after this interaction.

Observing e cigarette use significantly increased the observer’s desire to smoke both regular and e cigarettes, researchers say. The increases in desire to smoke a regular cigarette after observing e cigarette use were as strong as after observing regular cigarette use. However, observing regular cigarette use did not increase participants’ desire to smoke an e cigarette. To control, the actors also drank from a bottle of water while engaging in conversation with the participant to mimick hand to mouth behaviour. No increase in desire for either regular or e cigarettes were seen in this scenario.

«It’s important to note that there could be effects of being in the company of an e cigarette user, particularly for young smokers,» said study author Andrea King, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Chicago. «It’s possible that seeing e cigarette use may promote more smoking behavior and less quitting.»

Many proponents of e cigarettes have cited their ability to help tobacco addicts quit the health threatening behaviour, but King and her colleagues urge caution, noting that the devices could, among impressionable groups especially a concern raised recently by Post health columnist Dr. James Aw have the exact opposite effect.

«We know from past research that seeing regular cigarette use is a potent cue for someone to want to smoke. We did not know if seeing e cigarette use would produce the same effect. But that is exactly what we found. When we re tested participants 20 minutes after exposure, the desire to smoke remained elevated.»

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A second study on e cigarette use published this week in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology notes that the health benefit touted by e cigarette manufacturers and users «hasn’t been proven, and there’s no evidence to support the claims.»

Despite the apparent optimism surrounding e cigarettes and their purported therapeutic role in smoking cessation, there just simply is not enough evidence to suggest that consumers should use e cigarettes for this purpose.» said allergist Andrew Nickels, MD, lead author of the study.

Nickels and his colleagues went on to note that «due to the lack of production oversight, most consumers don’t know what’s in the e cigarettes they buy.» Urging regulation of the sector by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they went on to argue that «results of long term exposure» to substances found in the vapour of e cigarettes «are unknown» and that inhaling irritants could trigger asthma attacks.

Smoking in the philippines — wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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