(HealthDay)—The public health issues relating to electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and their role in eliminating tobacco use are discussed in a perspective piece published online Dec. 18 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Amy L. Fairchild, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, and colleagues discuss how e-cigarettes relate to the planned implementation of radical strategies for eliminating tobacco use globally.
The authors note that e-cigarette marketing campaigns threaten to reverse the successful, decades-long, public health campaign to denormalize smoking. E-cigarettes are threatening bans on public smoking, which have been a key component of tobacco control. Furthermore, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that although tobacco cigarette smoking declined from 2011 to 2012, there was a two-fold increase in the number of young people who experimented with e-cigarettes. Many have called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarettes. Supporters of e-cigarettes believe in their benefit as a form of harm reduction, the guiding principle behind needle exchange, with most e-cigarette users treating them as cessation aides.
"We believe that states should ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and the FDA should move swiftly to regulate them so that their potential harms are better understood—and so that they can contribute to the goal of harm reduction," the authors write.
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