Smart Fixx is the Smart Choice

Professor Michael Siegel shares his findings after studying the effects the electronic cigarette has on smokers health, and ability to quit smoking.

Boston University public health professor Michael Siegel and Zachary Cahn, a graduate student in political science at U.C.-Berkeley, review the evidence concerning the relative hazards of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes as well as the former  potential as a replacement for the latter. “A preponderance of the available evidence shows [e-cigarettes] to be much safer than tobacco cigarettes and comparable in toxicity to conventional nicotine replacement products,” they write. Furthermore, because e-cigarettes more closely simulate the experience of smoking than nicotine gum, patches, or inhalers do, they may be more effective in helping smokers quit. Siegel and Cahn note that effectiveness may not hinge on nicotine delivery:

Taken together, this evidence suggests that electronic cigarettes are capable of reducing cigarette craving, but that the effect is not due exclusively to nicotine. Bullen et al observe that “the reduction in desire to smoke in the first 10 min[utes] of [electronic cigarette] use appears to be independent of nicotine absorption.”…The sizable craving reduction achieved by the “placebo”—a nicotine-free electronic cigarette—demonstrates the ability of physical stimuli to suppress cravings independently. Many studies have established the ability of non nicotine cigarettes to provide craving relief. Barrett found that non nicotine  cigarettes reduce cravings more than a nicotinic inhaler, supporting Buchhalter et al’s conclusion that although some withdrawal symptoms can be treated effectively with NRT [nicotine replacement therapy], others, such as, intense cravings, respond better to smoking-related stimuli.

Perhaps because of these very same “smoking-related stimuli,” public health officials and anti-smoking groups have been irrationally hostile to e-cigarettes, demanding that they be removed from the market. Siegel and Cahn challenge these critics to act on their own professed principles, including the injunction to “do no harm,” by supporting e-cigarettes as a harm-reducing alternative to smoking . . .

Unless the evidence suggests that vaping does not yield the anticipated reduction in harm to the user, enacting an electronic cigarette prohibition will do harm to hundreds of thousands of vapor’s already using electronic cigarettes in place of tobacco ones—a clear violation of non-maleficence.

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