The Balance Between Vaping’s Harm and Potential Use as a Tool to Quit Smoking

Date:

On June 23, 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration announced that all Juul products must be removed from US markets.

This decision essentially broadened an existing ban on teen use of the company’s nicotine e-cigarettes to include adults as well.

The next day, Juul asked a federal appeals court to temporarily block the ban while Juul challenged the decision. The court agreed to the pause, and for now, Juul products are still for sale in the US.

Lynn Kozlowski of the University at Buffalo has been studying nicotine and cigarette addiction for decades. He explains how the recent fight over Juul products fits into the larger discussion of e-cigarettes, tobacco use and public health among adults and teens.

Why does the FDA want to stop the sale of Juul products?

According to the FDA, the decision was a precautionary response due to a lack of “sufficient evidence regarding the toxicological profile of the products” to ensure protection of public health. The FDA also noted that it hadn’t received any information suggesting Juul products were an “immediate hazard.”

In the announcement, FDA commissioner Robert M. Califf commented on the effects Juul products have had on youth vaping. And this decision comes at a time when some have hoped that a new ban on Juul products and other e-cigarettes for adults would help reduce vaping by teens.

How do the health risks of vaping compare to smoking?

Cigarettes kill at least 1-in-2 smokers prematurely and cut smokers’ lives short by an average of 10 years due to cancer, obstructive lung disease and cardiovascular disease.

There is not yet any long-term epidemiological data available on e-cigarettes. But US and British assessments have concluded that while vaping is likely to be substantially less harmful than cigarettes, it is not risk-free. Potential harms include nicotine addiction as well as some cardiovascular risks, though these are estimated to be lower than risks from cigarettes.

Could e-cigarettes reduce harm of normal smoking?

I do not encourage that anyone vape if they do not need to. But if someone would otherwise smoke cigarettes, and vaping helps them stop smoking completely, e-cigarettes can be a useful tool for reducing smoking and health problem. Quitting cigarettes is unequivocally good for your health. Research shows that if a person stops using cigarettes by age 40, they on average avoid 90% of the increased risk of death compared to if they continued smoking. If a person stops smoking cigarettes by age 30, their health risks are nearly the same as a person who never smoked.

The CDC says that there is limited evidence that vaping helps people quit smoking cigarettes. The FDA, in approving some e-cigarettes for sale, expresses the view that e-cigarettes can be a beneficial tool for smokers who significantly reduce their cigarette use or stop smoking by switching to e-cigarettes.

Recent studies have also shown that e-cigarettes are more effective than nicotine replacement medicines in helping people who want to quit smoking. The National Health Service in the United Kingdom includes vaping as an approved way to quit smoking.

Read full article here.

Lynn T. Kozlowski – Science The Wire – 2022-07-04.

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