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The Lesser Evil of E-Cigarettes (Scientific American)

Article by CAAT Director Thomas Hartung. 


No one disputes the fact that cigarette smoking kills, although many people might not realize just how lethal it really is. The World Health Organization estimates that tobacco kills up to one half of its regular users via cardiovascular disease, lung and other cancers, and respiratory illnesses. About 30 percent of current U.S. cancer deaths result from tobacco use.

Electronic cigarettes, however, are taking over at an astonishing pace. They were introduced in the early 2000s, and according to some experts, sales could exceed those of traditional tobacco products within a few years. In reaction, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in May that it would ban sales to individuals younger than 18; it would also require manufacturers to register their products with the agency and submit ingredients for safety testing. Some countries, such as New Zealand, ban e-cigarettes that contain nicotine entirely.

Policies that restrict e-smoking are reasonable. We don't know yet what kind of health risks it carries, so we don't want people who don't smoke—especially kids—to take it up. And yet we should keep in mind that such vaping is almost certainly safer than conventional smoking: some experts have suggested that e-cigarettes carry only between 3 and 5 percent of the health risks of tobacco smoking. We don't want to ban vaping or make it too hard to do, because if smokers can't quit, they should switch to the less harmful habit.

Full Article at Scientific American

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