New frontiers on tobacco harm reduction

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Despite receiving even an A-list celebrity testimonial on their efficacy, e-cigarettes have gotten a lot of flack from public health opponents who argue that the clean nicotine delivery device is harmful and contains “toxic” chemicals. Well, thanks to a study co-authored by ACSH advisor Michael Siegel, M.D., M.P.H., and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, it was found that out of 222 first-time e-cigarette users who “vaped” more than 20 times daily for six months, 70 percent quit smoking. Additionally, 66.8 percent reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked, while 31 percent of the total sample quit smoking after six months of their initial e-cigarette purchase. As a point of reference, the measured smoking cessation rate using nicotine replacement therapies is only 17.8 percent after six months of use.

ACSH's Dr. Elizabeth Whelan believes this provides preliminary evidence that counters arguments posed by e-cigarette opponents. “This study supports the theory that e-cigarettes are a highly effective smoking cessation tool, and yet I continue to be dismayed that knowledgeable people reject this as a safer alternative to smoking even though it doesn’t contain any of the harmful by-products of combustion associated with regular cigarettes.”

ACSH friend Dr. Brad Rodu, co-author of our Tobacco Harm Reduction publication, unveils another conspiracy among smokeless tobacco opponents, this time focusing on snus — a product that has been banned in the E.U. (except Sweden) and has influenced tobacco regulation in the U.S. Its prohibition, it seems, was based upon conflicting results stemming from studies conducted at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Dr. Rodu notes that the Karolinska Institute has repeatedly altered its study methodology, and it refuses to explain why it both includes and excludes study data, seemingly to fit the findings it seeks.

“The bottom line is that people are misrepresenting the facts and aren’t being transparent about their research. Any evidence that snus is harmful is absent in these studies, and the data is obviously manipulated since these groups clearly have some vendetta against smokeless tobacco,” says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross.