The Drag on E-Cigarettes

New nicotine-delivery systems like e-cigarettes are not just temporary aids for people attempting to quit smoking cigarettes; they could act as long-term alternatives to tobacco, making the virtual elimination of high-risk tobacco consumption a real possibility. So why are health authorities discouraging their use?

RENNES – Michael Russell and Murray Jarvik, two pioneers of smoking-cessation research in the 1970s, would probably have welcomed the development of the electronic cigarette or “personal nicotine vaporizer” (PNV). Beyond serving as a temporary aid for people attempting to quit smoking cigarettes, such new nicotine-delivery systems could act as long-term alternatives to tobacco – making it possible to eliminate tobacco consumption almost entirely.

We have long known that people smoke for the nicotine, but die from the smoke. Indeed, the vast majority of cigarette-related diseases and deaths arise from the inhalation of tar particles and toxic gases, including carbon monoxide. Though nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) has helped many smokers quit, the cigarette habit remains pervasive in many countries.

The use of nicotine in non-combustible forms like smokeless tobacco, or PNV, would enable millions of current smokers to reduce considerably the harm that their nicotine consumption is doing to their health. In Sweden, the widespread use of snus – a smokeless tobacco product with a lower concentration of carcinogenic nitrosamines – has contributed to a dramatic decline in the incidence of lung cancer, to the world’s lowest levels.

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