The debate rages on, back and forth between advocates for the e-cigarettes for its ability to help people quit smoking regular cigarettes versus those who claim the vapor alternatives are no better. With all the back and forth from both sides of the debate the most important question gets overshadowed, what are the lasting effects of e-cigarettes on public health?
An article written by Professor Linda Bauld published in the Guardian, makes the argument that there is little support for the claim that e-cigarettes are as harmful as smoking. She cites a study published in the online journal Oral Oncology, in which the author stated that they believe e-cigarettes are no better than smoking regular ones.
“In reality this study tells us little or nothing about the safety of e-cigarettes compared to smoking,” she said.
“Few things are risk free and no one has claimed that e-cigarettes are,” Bauld said. Certainly e-cigarettes are not risk free as Bauld states, but this is a question that can be answered with further research.
She continues on to say that as an alternative to a uniquely deadly product that kills countless people, e-cigarettes are a better. As true or untrue as her statements may be, her argument only perpetuates the faltered focus of the issue farther away from the most important question.
As many people are turning to e-cigarettes as a substitute to smoking regular ones, it is appropriate to shift attentions on whether they are better for you. But by only focusing on this aspect, again the most important question was missed.
This bubbling dispute needs to be less about whether or not e-cigarettes are worse for people than regular cigarettes, but needs to focus on the harmful and long term effects of usage. It is shocking to have a dispute over which is the lesser harm and not focusing efforts on the long term effects these new smoking devices may have on the public and in-particular, youth.
So what are the known facts about e-cigarettes to date? The biggest red flag for this product is the fact that there is no government oversight, meaning that the FDA has not determined what is in the chemicals used in them. Currently the only e-cigarettes that are regulated by the FDA are those marketed for therapeutic purposes, the FDA said.
The FDA is actively collecting voluntary adverse events reports on their website, but these reports are merely informational, not scientific. Some of the claims of the reports are that e-cigarettes have caused, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, seizures, and other health problems.
Of course it is important to monitor the trends of e-cigarettes and the number of people who are using these devices as an alternative to regular cigarettes. Instead of trying to compare the two, could we not answer the same question by evaluating the issue via scientific studies on long term usage of this growingly popular device before it’s too late and its ramifications on users is too countless?
The request is simple, let’s conduct more research on the long term effects of e-cigarettes and stop spending too much time with comparisons.
Learn more about e-cigarette facts from the National Institutes of Health.