The British Medical Journal recent published a new study back in June “to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes, by comparing users of only e-cigarettes, smokers of only tobacco cigarettes and dual users.” Measuring the “sustained abstinence from tobacco cigarettes”, their study found roughly 40 percent disparity between the smokers that used electronic cigarettes to combat traditional tobacco cigarette smoking, and those who tried to quit without the use of electronic cigarettes and other smoking cessation aids.
61 percent of the 229 electronic cigarette users reported remaining abstinent from tobacco, while only 23.1 percent of the 480 tobacco smokers reported abstinence. This new study is providing much needed evidence in favor of the general perception of e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products as effective tobacco-harm-reduction products. According to the study’s authors,
[The study,] to date, is the only study to directly compare smokers of tobacco cigarettes only with users of e-cigarettes only.
The authors of the study concluded electronic cigarette use alone might support tobacco quitters remaining abstinent from tobacco. Dual usage, using traditional tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, did not have the same effect and does not improve the likelihood of quitting tobacco; however, it may be helpful to reduce tobacco consumption.
There are numerous studies producing evidence that legitimizes the value of electronic cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products as a smoking cessation tool. In 2015, Public Health England published a study that found electronic cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes and should be promoted as a tobacco-cessation method. Back in April 2016, the Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians published Nicotine without Smoke: Tobacco Harm Reduction, which found a “relatively high quit rate” for users of tobacco cigarettes while “long-term health risks associated with smoking are unlikely to exceed 5 percent of those associated with smoke tobacco products.”
Despite these findings, and the lack of substantial evidence, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently ordered e-cigarettes and vaporized nicotine products to be classified and regulated in the same fashion as tobacco products. Under their new ruling, which will take effect August 2016, requires any e-cigarette and vaporized nicotine product introduced to the market after 2007 to apply for a pre-market tobacco application. The process is expected to be costly and could, as Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, stated could limit health benefits by
the very need to have new products that are less harmful be held to a higher standard, than … the cigarette doesn’t make sense from a public health perspective.
The FDA needs to reconsider its position to burden the electronic cigarette industry with these unnecessary and costly regulations. Instead, it needs to acknowledge the wealth of evidence showing the benefits of these products while finding ways to promote electronic cigarettes as part of an effective tobacco-harm-reduction strategy.