NJ researchers make the case for using e-cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes have had a very bad reputation lately.

There have been many stories about how dangerous they are, several types of vaping products have been banned, and the US Surgeon General warns that in addition to containing nicotine, e-cigarettes also contain ultrafine particles and chemicals that can be inhaled and cause serious lung disease.

Rutgers University researchers agree that there are health concerns with e-cigarettes, yes, but they insist there are also potential benefits that shouldn’t be ignored.

Michelle Bover-Manderski, a professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and also a researcher at the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies, said the public needs to recognize that there is a continuum of tobacco harms.

“Something like combustible (regular) cigarettes I would put on one end of the spectrum and then something like a vaping product would be on the other end,” she said.

“We have evidence that e-cigarettes are certainly not harmless, but they are…orders of magnitude less than combustible tobacco.”

Bover-Manderki said a balanced approach is needed because we don’t want to encourage young people to start using an addictive product like e-cigarettes.

“We also don’t want to get to the point where we’ve deterred other people who might otherwise benefit from using e-cigarettes. These people I’m talking about would be adults who are addicted to combustible cigarettes,” she said.

Electronic cigarettes

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Keep e-cigarettes out of reach of children

She agreed it was important to limit flavors and put in place marketing restrictions for e-cigarettes so they don’t appeal directly to teens and young adults.

“We don’t want them to look like something a young person would want, but we also don’t want them to be misunderstood as being just as harmful as regular cigarettes, because that’s not okay,” she said.

As good as a patch?

Bover-Manderki said there have been trials of e-cigarettes “that have found them as effective as FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies. They are a potential solution for someone who has tried to quit smoking unsuccessfully.

Electronic cigarettes give smokers the ability to hold and manipulate a product similar to a regular tobacco cigarette, which can offer a significant advantage over a patch.

Electronic cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular with smokers

Dondi Tawatao, Getty Images

Bover-Manderki works at the Center for Tobacco Studies with Julia Chen-Sankey, assistant professor in the Department of Health Behaviors, Society, and Policy at Rutgers School of Public Health.

They published a guest commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, examining new data on the trend of e-cigarette use among American adults.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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