A man who helped invent stop-smoking products such as nicotine patches and the prescription drug Chantix says that electronic cigarettes are one of the most promising developments in the field of smoking cessation, according to a story by Rishi Dasgupta published at dukechronicle.com.
Dr. Jed Rose, who is director of the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation, Durham, North Carolina, US, and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science, said that currently more than 500,000 people in the US died every year of smoking related disease, a number that continued to rise. Cigarette smoking imposed a completely unacceptable burden of death and disease, he added.
Rose, who has studied nicotine since 1979, said smokers didn’t just crave nicotine; they also craved the physical action of smoking a cigarette.
“We’ve done studies where we’ve intravenously administered smokers with the same dose of nicotine they would get from a cigarette and found that this doesn’t satisfy their craving,” Rose said. “On the other hand, if they smoke a denicotinized cigarette, their craving is relieved quite a bit.”
Unlike other cigarette alternatives such as nicotine gum and patches, e-cigarettes replace the physical behavior of smoking and deliver nicotine in a way familiar to smokers.
Rose said the Duke Center for Smoking Cessation was doing a Juul trial and that there was “good reason to believe” it could help people quit smoking. And while the Food and Drug Administration claimed that e-cigarettes were introducing minors to nicotine, it was worth the risk.
“The ‘epidemic’ of youth addiction is greatly exaggerated,” Rose said. “This isn’t good, but it has to be weighed against the 500,000 preventable deaths that can be lessened using e-cigarettes.”
Rose said later that while e-cigarettes were less harmful than traditional ones, they still posed risks, including not just the obvious risk of addiction, but also the unknown effects of nicotine on adolescent brains and the trace amounts of cancer-linked compounds.
Nevertheless, Rose maintained that e-cigarettes were a much safer alternative to paper-and-tobacco cigarettes.
“Ultimately, if you’re going to do something, do the thing that’s less harmful,” Rose was quoted as saying. “We do that with things like safe sex and clean-needle exchanges for heroin users, so it should also apply to cigarette smoking—which kills more than all those other things put together.”
Rose was skeptical about e-cigarettes being gateways to tobacco. “If anything, restricting e-cigarettes may incentivize youth to try combustible cigarettes instead,” Rose said.