Intended for healthcare professionals

CCBYNC Open access

E-cigarette use and associated changes in population smoking cessation: evidence from US current population surveys

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 26 July 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j3262

Public Health Impact?

This paper is interesting, and when viewed through the eyes of a smoker, is probably good news. However, when viewed from a public health perspective, the net impact of "e-cigarettes", as contentious as this topic can be, comes down to a balance between the reduction in cigarette consumption in current smokers who able to quit via the use of electronic cigarettes, compared with the rate of youth smoking initiation, prompted by experimenting with e-cigarettes. How many teens that would otherwise avoid tobacco use will ultimately become lifelong smokers as a result of nicotine dependence brought about by this 'experimentation'?

From a public health perspective, it is challenging to make e-cigarettes widely available to smokers seeking to reduce health harms of smoking and simultaneously prevent youth uptake of the same product(s). Tobacco industry promises not to market e-cigarettes to teens cannot and should not be trusted. Until the net impact of these two competing consequences of the widespread availability of electronic nicotine delivery systems can be either directly measured, or at least accurately modeled, Public Health officials, and Lawmakers should remain leery of loosening regulations on who can and cannot purchase e-cigarettes and their supplies.

Competing interests: No competing interests

27 July 2017
Douglas Arenberg
University of Michigan, Pulmonary & Critical Care
1150 West Medical Center Dr. 6301 MSRB III SPC 5642