A major scientific review of available research on the use, content, and safety of e-cigarettes has concluded that - although long-term health effects of e-cigarette use are unknown - compared with conventional cigarettes they are likely to be much less harmful to users or bystanders.
The review of current evidence about e-cigarettes, carried out by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) and published today by the scientific journal Addiction, concludes that despite gaps in the knowledge which require further research, the current evidence about e-cigarettes does not justify regulating them more strictly than, or even as strictly as, conventional cigarettes. Regulatory decisions will provide the greatest public health benefit when they are proportional, based on evidence, and incorporate a rational appraisal of likely risks and benefits.
The scientific review was conducted by an international team of leading tobacco researchers led by QMUL's Professor Peter Hajek. Hajek comments: "The evidence we currently have is clear: e-cigarettes should be allowed to compete against conventional cigarettes in the marketplace. Health care professionals may advise smokers who are unwilling to cease nicotine use to switch to e-cigarettes. Smokers who have not managed to stop with current treatments may also benefit from switching to e-cigarettes."
Electronic cigarettes have gained considerable popularity over the past few years. While public health researchers investigate their potential harms (reducing motivation to stop smoking, providing a gateway to smoking) and benefits (giving smokers safer access to nicotine and reducing or even virtually eliminating cigarette use), regulatory bodies around the world are currently debating whether, and how heavily, to regulate e-cigarettes. Their verdicts likely will feature among the key public health decisions of our time.
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PR Manager (School of Medicine and Dentistry)
Queen Mary University of London
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Notes to the editor
Hajek P, Etter J-F, Benowitz N, Eissenberg T, and McRobbie H (2014). Electronic cigarettes: Review of use, content, safety, effects on smokers, and potential for harm and benefit. Addiction, 109: doi: 10.1111/add.12659.
This paper is free to download for one month after publication from the Wiley Online Library:
or by contacting Jean O'Reilly, Editorial Manager, Addiction, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel +44 (0)20 7848 0853.
Peter Hajek & Hayden McRobbie, UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, UK
Jean-François Etter, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Neal Benowitz, Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Departments of Medicine and Bioengineering & Therapeutic Sciences, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA
Thomas Eissenberg, Center for the Study of Tobacco Products, Department of Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA
Brian McNeill, Public Relations Specialist, University Public Affairs, Virginia Commonwealth University, Tel: 804-827-0889, Email: email@example.com
About Queen Mary University of London
Queen Mary University of London is among the UK's leading research-intensive higher education institutions, with five campuses in the capital: Mile End, Whitechapel, Charterhouse Square, West Smithfield and Lincoln's Inn Fields.
A member of the Russell Group, Queen Mary is also one of the largest of the colleges of the University of London, with 17,800 students - 20 per cent of whom are from more than 150 countries.
Some 4,000 staff deliver world-class degrees and research across 21 departments, within three Faculties: Science and Engineering; Humanities and Social Sciences; and the School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Queen Mary has an annual turnover of £350m, research income worth £100m, and generates employment and output worth £700m to the UK economy each year.
Unique for London universities, Queen Mary has an integrated residential campus in Mile End - a 2,000-bed award-winning Student Village overlooking the scenic Regents Canal.
Addiction is a monthly international scientific journal publishing peer-reviewed research reports on alcohol, illicit drugs, tobacco, and gambling as well as editorials and other debate pieces. Owned by the Society for the Study of Addiction, it has been in continuous publication since 1884. Addiction is the number one journal in the 2012 ISI Journal Citation Reports Ranking in the Substance Abuse Category (Social Science Edition). Membership to the Society for the Study of Addiction is £85 and includes an annual subscription to Addiction.