Benefits of e-cigarettes far outweigh potential harms – British Medical Group

Benefits of e-cigarettes far outweigh potential harms – British Medical GroupA major British medical organization urged smokers to switch to electronic cigarettes, saying they are the best hope in generations for people addicted to tobacco cigarettes to quit.

The recommendation, laid out in a report published Thursday by the Royal College of Physicians, summarizes the growing body of science on e-cigarettes and finds that their benefits far outweigh the potential harms. It concludes resoundingly that, at least so far, the devices are helping people more than harming them, and that the worries about them — including that using them will lead young people to eventually start smoking traditional cigarettes — have not come to pass.

“This is the first genuinely new way of helping people stop smoking that has come along in decades,” said John Britton, director of the U.K. Center for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, who led the committee that produced the report. E-cigarettes, he said, “have the potential to help half or more of all smokers get off cigarettes. That’s a huge health benefit, bigger than just about any medical intervention.”

E-cigarettes deliver nicotine without the harmful tar and chemicals that cause cancer. Some public health experts see e-cigarettes as the first real chance in years for millions addicted to quit. But others have focused on the potential dangers of e-cigarettes, for example that they could extend smoking habits, that they could be a gateway to traditional cigarettes for children, or that their vapor could to turn out to have long-term health effects.

The report cites evidence from Britain that e-cigarettes have helped with quitting. Robert West, director of Tobacco Studies at University College London, analyzed monthly household survey data going back to 2009 in England, and concluded that use of an e-cigarette during an attempt to quit was associated with a 50 percent increase in the chances of success, compared with using no aid or using a product such as nicotine patches without any professional counseling. He estimated that around 20,000 smokers in England quit smoking in 2014 because of e-cigarettes.

Professor Glantz cited his recent analysis as evidence that e-cigarettes in fact reduce the chances someone will quit smoking.

Via: New York Times
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