E-Cigarettes: Both Good and Bad, Expert Panel Says



Potential harms and benefits of e-cigarettes may depend on your age, according to a report mandated by the U.S. Congress.

The devices can lead young people to smoke conventional tobacco, but they also appear to help adults quit smoking, the experts concluded.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report is the first to review all current research on these popular devices, said committee chair David Eaton.

“E-cigarettes can’t be simply categorized as either beneficial or harmful,” said Eaton. “Evidence suggests that while they’re not necessarily without health risks on their own, they are likely to be far less harmful than a conventional cigarette.”

Still, little is known about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes, added Eaton, a professor at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Millions of Americans use e-cigarettes, according to the report. While the battery-operated products vary, all contain a heating element that produces an inhalable aerosol.

To shed light on e-cigarettes’ (or vaping’s) impact, Eaton’s team constructed several population models to project future consequences.

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SOURCES: David Eaton, Ph.D., professor, environmental and occupational health sciences, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle; Erika Sward, assistant vice president, national advocacy, American Lung Association; Gregory Conley, president, American Vaping Association; Jan. 23, 2018, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, "Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes"

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