Intended for healthcare professionals


Electronic cigarettes as a method of tobacco control

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 30 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6269
  1. Ron Borland, Nigel Gray distinguished fellow in cancer prevention
  1. 1Cancer Council Victoria, Carlton, VIC 3053, Australia
  1. ron.borland{at}

Allow them, but research and monitoring are needed so that the risks can be regulated

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), cigarette shaped products that vaporise nicotine in ways that enable it to be inhaled, have become increasingly popular in the past few years.1 2 3 E-cigarettes are a potentially more attractive substitute for smoking than low toxin smokeless tobacco because the nicotine is delivered by puffing, as when smoking a cigarette. A range of products are now on the market, with new improved ones promised, and—something almost unheard of in tobacco use—self organising groups of users (who call themselves “vapers” because they inhale vapour, not smoke)—who are advocating for these products and sharing their experiences.1 3 Opposition has come from some health groups, either for pragmatic reasons or because they are opposed to any recreational use of nicotine.

Medical journals including the BMJ have called for more research or regulation (or both),4 5 6 7 8 with the main difference being whether this should occur before allowing the products on to the market,4 or accepting that they might continue to be allowed.5 6 7 8

People who argue that research is needed first …

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