Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Yankee Doodling

Are e-cigarettes killing people in the US?

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 17 September 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l5591
  1. Douglas Kamerow, acting director, Robert Graham Center for policy studies in primary care, professor of family medicine at Georgetown University, and associate editor, The BMJ
  1. dkamerow{at}

Two issues need to be disentangled

Until recently everything was going great for the e-cigarette industry in the US: its products were increasingly used by adult cigarette smokers to help them quit smoking—the industry’s stated target group. E-cigarettes had incredible popularity among students of all ages—unintended, the industry claimed. Regulatory agencies had given manufacturers until 2022 to prove that e-cigarettes were less harmful to people’s health than conventional cigarettes, which a majority of people thought they were. Juul, the leading e-cigarette brand in the US, was the cool accessory on campus. Nothing to worry about, right?

And then people started dying.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating 380 cases of serious lung illness across the country, with most of …

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