E-cigarettes have rapidly gained in popularity since they were invented about 10 years ago, but there has been little agreement in the medical community about whether or not they are safe.
To help settle the issue, the government agency Public Health England commissioned an independent review of the health aspects of e-cigarettes. Their findings were just released in a 111 page report. The main conclusion was that e-cigarettes are about 95% safer than smoking traditional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes consist of a chamber that is filled with a liquid composed of nicotine suspended in a glycerin solution, and often various artificial flavorings are added. When the user inhales, the device contains a heating element, which vaporizes the solution
Here are some of the main conclusions from the Public Health England report (which notes that still, in 2015, “smoking remains England’s number one killer”):
1) E-cigarettes are not risk free, but considering all health risks, they are about 95% less harmful to the user than traditional cigarette smoking
2) The risk to the people around users of e-cigarettes (passive smokers), is much less than people exposed to regular cigarette smoke
3) E-cigarettes do not contain the other carcinogens found in traditional cigarettes, such as tar and arsenic
4) E-cigarettes deliver less nicotine, and more slowly, to the user than traditional cigarettes
5) E-cigarette use does not seem to be a gateway for non-smokers or children to take up traditional smoking. Almost all people who adopt e-cigarettes were already smokers of traditional cigarettes.
6) Smokers should be encouraged to try e-cigarettes if they have tried and failed other methods of quitting.
If you are a smoker or have friends or family members who smoke, you might mention the idea of e-cigarettes. According to Public Health England, some of the highest quit rates for tobacco products are among smokers who first convert to e-cigarettes, as well as receive support from stop-smoking services. At worst, if a traditional smoker converts to e-cigarettes but is unable to quit this crutch, at least they are doing much less self-harm and harm to those around them.
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