American Lung Association Urges Smokers to Quit Rather Than Switch to Electronic Cigarettes
A December 30 press release from the American Lung Association urges smokers to quit smoking outright rather than switching to electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes as they are commonly called. The press release notes that Virginia is home to some 960,000 smokers of whom upwards of 56% attempted to quit last year. In the press release, the Lung Association takes issue with advertisements from e-cigarette companies that might lead smokers to believe that switching to e-cigarettes is the same as quitting smoking. The press release states that the Food and Drug Administration has not found any e-cigarette to be safe and effective in helping smokers quit. The press release provides a link to the Association’s Freedom from Smoking Plus program, which it promotes as a better alternative to e-cigarettes for smokers who want to quit.
The press release also provides a link to facts about e-cigarettes that the Association has compiled from various sources. One of the links is to a January 2018 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine which examined over 800 peer-reviewed, scientific studies. David Eaton, the chairperson of the committee that wrote the report, stated “E-cigarettes cannot be simply categorized as either beneficial or harmful. In some circumstances, such as their use by non-smoking adolescents and young adults, their adverse effects clearly warrant concern. In other cases, such as when adult smokers use them to quit smoking, they offer an opportunity to reduce smoking-related illness.”
The report drew a number of specific conclusions based on a review of the 800 studies. Significant among the conclusions is that there is substantial evidence that use of e-cigarettes by youth and young adults increases their risk of ever using conventional cigarettes. The report also notes there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use results in symptoms of dependence on e-cigarettes.
At the same time, the report notes there is conclusive evidence that completely substituting e-cigarettes for conventional cigarettes reduces users’ exposure to many toxicants and carcinogens present in conventional cigarettes. The report also notes there is substantial evidence that completely switching from regular use of conventional cigarettes to e-cigarettes results in reduced short-term adverse health outcomes in several organ systems.
All e-cigarettes currently on the market will need to go through FDA review to stay on the market. The deadline to submit applications is May 2020. The agency will weigh the “net public health benefit” to make its decision, meaning regulators will weigh the products’ negative effects of getting minors hooked on nicotine against the benefits of helping adult smokers quit.
Dr. David Kessler, who was the FDA Commissioner from 1990 to 1997 stated in an interview with CNBC on October 25 that he doesn’t see how e-cigarette manufacturers will be able to keep their products on the market after the FDA’s review of their products. Kessler’s comment referred to the FDA’s mandate to determine the net health benefit of e-cigarettes, implying that the negative consequences to youth and young adults outweighs the benefit to conventional cigarette smokers who switch to e-cigarettes in an effort to quit smoking. Kessler also stated that he hopes we can get to the point where people see this as potentially a safer product.
Links to information used in this story are provided at the conclusion of the transcript to this story on our web site. We would like to thank the American Lung Association, the Food and Drug Administration and CNBC for information used in this story.
This is Mickey Frank Thomas for Allegheny Mountain Radio.
Links to informational sources used in this news story: