Fuming about e-cigarettes and harmBMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h4634 (Published 26 August 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4634
- Douglas Kamerow, senior scholar, Robert Graham Center for policy studies in primary care, professor of family medicine at Georgetown University, and associate editor, The BMJ
Among the criticisms that public health officials have leveled at electronic cigarettes are that they are dangerous to health and that their flavors and easy availability are enticing and recruiting new smokers, especially young people. A new report from Public Health England, however, takes a surprisingly different view.1
The English study updated two previous reports on e-cigarettes and made headlines with a general judgment that e-cigarettes may not be so bad after all. Taking a strong harm reduction approach, the report concluded that e-cigarettes were about 95% safer than combustibles and thus could be “one of the key strategies to reduce smoking related disease and death.”1 It also advocated publicizing the 95% safer figure in light of “misinterpreted” previous studies of the harms of e-cigarettes. Since smoking in England, as in the United States, is increasingly concentrated among economically disadvantaged groups,1 the report found that e-cigarettes could provide a widely available low cost means to reduce smoking and improve health in these groups. This could help decrease population-wide …
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