Evidence suggests e-cigs safer than cigarettes, researcher claims

December 16, 2010, Boston University Medical Center

In a new report that bucks the concerns raised by the Food and Drug Administration, a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) (sph.bu.edu) researcher concludes that electronic cigarettes are much safer than real cigarettes and show promise in the fight against tobacco-related diseases and death.

The review, which will be published online ahead of print this month in the Journal of Public Health Policy, is the first to comprehensively examine scientific evidence about the safety and effectiveness of electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, said Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences at BUSPH. The battery-powered devices provide tobacco-less doses of in a vaporized solution.

"Few, if any, chemicals at levels detected in electronic cigarettes raise serious health concerns," the authors said. "Although the existing research does not warrant a conclusion that electronic cigarettes are safe in absolute terms and further clinical studies are needed to comprehensively assess the safety of electronic cigarettes, a preponderance of the available evidence shows them to be much safer than and comparable in toxicity to conventional nicotine replacement products."

The report reviewed 16 laboratory studies that identified the components in electronic cigarette liquid and vapor. The authors found that carcinogen levels in electronic cigarettes are up to 1,000 times lower than in tobacco cigarettes.

"The FDA and major anti-smoking groups keep saying that we don't know anything about what is in electronic cigarettes," Siegel said. "The truth is, we know a lot more about what is in electronic cigarettes than regular cigarettes."

Since coming onto the market in the United States more than three years ago, electronic cigarettes have proven to be controversial. The FDA has threatened to ban the sell of e-cigarettes and six national anti-smoking groups – the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, American Legacy Foundation, and Action on Smoking and Health – have also called for the removal of electronic cigarettes from the market.

Their concerns are that the FDA has not evaluated any e-cigarettes for safety or effectiveness, that the devices contain dangerous chemicals, and that they are marketed toward children. In December, however, a federal appeals court ruled that the FDA should regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products rather than as drug-delivery devices, such as nicotine-replacement patches or gum. The latter undergo much more stringent FDA regulations.

"Taking these products off the market would force thousands of users to return to cigarette smoking," Siegel said. "Why would the FDA and the anti-smoking groups want to take an action that is going to seriously harm the public's health? The only ones who would be protected by a ban on e-cigarettes are the tobacco companies, as these new products represent the first real threat to their profits in decades."

The report also reviews preliminary evidence that can be effective in suppressing the urge to smoke, largely because they simulate the act of smoking a real cigarette. E-cigarettes might also offer an advantage over traditional nicotine delivery devices, the authors argue, because smoking-related stimuli alone have been found capable of suppressing tobacco abstinence symptoms for long periods of time.

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not rated yet Dec 18, 2010
I've given up now for over a year with the help from an electronic cigarette from ecigie.co.uk , absolutely brilliant device that I consider to literally have saved my life. It's refreshing change to read a positive report on this product.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 19, 2010
Thank you for this article. It is so nice to see the truth about e-cigarettes finally coming to light.

Breathing clean, fresh air will always be better than breathing in anything else, obviously. But for thousands of smokers who have failed to quit through traditional methods, including myself, e-cigarettes are a life-saver.

I hope the industry continues to progress, and becomes safer and more consistent as the years go by. E-cigarettes are still a young product.

But after trying and failing countless times, I was finally able to quit my heavy smoking habit about 6 months ago, using e-cigarettes. I feel healthier, and I hope to quit using e-cigarettes in the future as well.

Thank you for doing some honest research. And asking the question of why anti-smoking groups would be trying to kill the only successful quit-smoking method on the market is one that needs more examination.
not rated yet Dec 20, 2010
I am so happy that someone has finally published research on this subject! I used to be a pack a day smoker, and this amazing invention helped me get my life back. For many smokers, cold-turkey quitting is simply not an option; for these people, the negligible risks of e-cigarettes are infinitely better than the alternative. I would personally rather take my chances with these products than know with absolute certainty that I will succumb to cancer or emphysema.
not rated yet Dec 21, 2010
I got my ecig from unsmoke.us and I haven't smoked since. Those guys have the best liquids around without a doubt. And same day shipping!
not rated yet Dec 21, 2010
You guys should try e-mail. It helped me quit mail.
not rated yet Jan 02, 2011
I have been off traditional cigs for 17 days now thanks to the use of ecigs. I am also using a nicotine patch, and I dont use my ecig that much due to that. My plan is to wean myself from the ecig as my patch dose goes down. If by the time I am finished using the patch, I still feel the need to use my ecig, than I will. I figure its better than smoking real cigs. I have asthma, and have had it for 28 years. I smoked for 20 of those years. Not a day has went by in the past 6 years or so that I have not needed to use my inhaler. Since quiting, and the use of the ecig, I have had only one asthma attack, very shortly after quiting. Im sure this had alot to do with my lungs regenerating. I am a nurse and well aware of the disease that I have subjected myself to over the years. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to be healthier. I can breath, take stairs, exersise, I dont stink, I can taste food again. The health benifits are numourous and far outweigh the risk, in my opinion.

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