Evidence supports e-cigarettes as a harm-reduction tool

Bans and other policies restricting e-cigarette sales could do more public harm than good, according to a group of public-health, tobacco-policy and ethics experts.

In a piece published online today (Dec. 12, 2019) in the journal Science, the authors, including three public health deans, caution that blanket policies developed in a rush to address two different concerns come with dangerous downsides – most notably the risk of taking away a powerful tool to help smokers quit.

“Illnesses and deaths, which appear to be related to vaping illicit THC oils, have caused justifiable alarm as has the rise of young people who are vaping nicotine. But in our response we must not lump together these troubling developments and fail to consider the powerful evidence supporting the availability of legal nicotine products,” said lead author Amy Fairchild, dean of The Ohio State University College of Public Health.

In Science, she and her co-authors write that “Restricting access and appeal among less harmful vaping products out of an abundance of caution while leaving deadly combustible products on the market does not protect public health. It threatens to derail a trend that could hasten the demise of cigarettes, poised to take a billion lives this century.”

The paper comes after the emergence this year of vaping-related lung injuries and deaths throughout the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 2,291 cases of serious lung injury and 48 deaths as of last week. Authorities have identified vitamin E acetate, a THC-product additive, as a “chemical of concern” and said that many of the products appear to have been acquired through informal sources – not from retail establishments selling products directly from known manufacturers. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.

Read full article here.

Misti Crane – Ohio State News – December 12, 2019.

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