Electronic cigarettes have been in a fog of conspiracy theories and criticism since they hit the U.S. market around 2006. Yet, they are widely available and promoted as a tool to help smokers kick the cigarette habit, which has an undeniable direct connection to illness and death. Unfortunately, most users of e-cigarettes continue to smoke traditional cigarettes. The devices are popular with sales of nearly $7 billion for more than 400 brands.
A new study from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) is not going to be well-received by proponents of electronic cigarettes. However, if past experience holds, the study will be dismissed or criticized by the manufacturers and users of electronic cigarettes. Yet, this systematic review and analysis of published data shows that adult smokers who use e-cigarettes are actually 28 percent less likely to stop smoking conventional tobacco cigarettes than people who do not use them. So if quitting the lethal habit of smoking cigarettes is your goal, the electronic cigarette may not be the best tool.
Lead investigator Dr. Sara Kalkhoran, a clinical fellow at the UCSF School of Medicine when the research was done, concluded
As currently being used, e-cigarettes are associated with significantly less quitting among smokers. E-cigarettes should not be recommended as effective smoking cessation aids until there is evidence that, as promoted and used, they assist smoking cessation.
You have probably seen e-cigarette hawkers at the mall, promoting the petite, battery-powered devices that often resemble cigarettes. They are referred to by many nicknames, including vapor pens, and people who use them are often called vapers. The e-cigarettes heat nicotine and added flavoring to deliver an aerosol that is inhaled. The aerosol itself has come under fire for being dangerous because of the formaldehyde. A new population of young users are being lured into the vaper life.
E-cigarettes are promoted as a way to quit smoking and to get access to nicotine in places that ban cigarettes. Both of these uses are at risk. For example, last year the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force concluded that insufficient evidence exists to recommend the devices for smoking cessation. So far, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not taken any action against companies that claim the devices help smokers stop, but compelling research results such as this could change that. It is interesting that not one e-cigarette manufacturer has submitted an application to the FDA to approve the device as a smoking cessation tool. Further reducing their attractiveness, e-cigarettes are banned in 430 cities and several states where traditional cigarettes are also banned. Study co-author Dr. Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, UCSF professor of medicine and director of the UCSF, said
The irony is that quitting smoking is one of the main reasons both adults and kids use e-cigarettes, but the overall effect is less, not more, quitting . . . the most dangerous thing about e-cigarettes is that they keep people smoking conventional cigarettes.
Smoking cigarettes is a powerful, dangerous habit that destroys the health of individuals, imposes severe consequences on families struggling to manage the failing health or death of loved ones, and places a enormous economic burden on America’s health care system. Cigarette smoking causes unnecessary death and damage and must be stopped. People trying to quit do not need false hope and empty promises. Using e-cigarettes may not be the way to stop.