To e-puff or not to e-puff: that is the question. A new article from the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) confronts the differences in views on e-cigarette safety between the UK and the U.S.
Public Health England (PHE), a governmental body the equivalent of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently released an evidence review claiming that e-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful to health than combustible cigarettes. In recommending that smokers who cannot or will not quit cigarettes try e-cigarettes, PHE takes a position on the opposite side of the aisle from the U.S., where many prominent tobacco control advocates, public health officials, and policymakers are critical of e-cigarettes. Viewpoints in the U.S. range most commonly from unequivocally denouncing e-cigarettes and linking them with adverse health risks to a far less frequent willingness to consider these devices to hold promise for moving tobacco smokers to a less harmful product, a belief held by the Truth Initiative (formerly the American Legacy Foundation).
In a new, thought-provoking “Perspective” in the New England Journal of Medicine, the debate continues. Researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health draw on the history of harm reduction in the UK and U.S., comparing the UK’s conclusion in 1926 that drug addiction was an illness that should be treated by physicians with safe drug practices to the very different U.S. stance of refusing drugs to addicts as a treatment practice. Comparisons like these led the researchers to the question: Do electronic cigarettes work against reducing tobacco smoking or offer the possibility of minimizing harm for those who just cannot quit tobacco cigarettes?
Read the article here