The results of the first national survey to measure public awareness and the prevalence of use of electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes) were just published in the American Journal of Public Health. The survey, conducted by the American Legacy Foundation, showed that 40.2 percent of Americans have heard of e-cigarettes and over 70 percent of this group believe they are less harmful than regular cigarettes.
These are clearly valuable data, in that they demonstrate that more Americans are becoming aware of e-cigarettes as a valid smoking cessation method. Unfortunately, the American Legacy Foundation s perspective on the data leaves much to be desired. In what amounts to a politicized diatribe, the Legacy Foundation authors entirely fail to acknowledge the benefits of e-cigarettes and other reduced-risk nicotine delivery devices a stance that can only be counterproductive to the health of America s 46 million addicted smokers.
In fact, researchers at Legacy have vigorously opposed and ignored the substantial amount of evidence that supports modified risk tobacco products and nicotine-delivery systems, focusing instead on hypothetical risks. For instance, Dr. David Abrams, Executive Director of the Schroeder Institute at Legacy, writes, that Until adequate research and regulation is in place, smokers should be wary of using e-cigarettes, and smokers who want to quit should, instead, pursue research-proven effective cessation tools, such as telephone quit lines and web-based cessation services all of which, we must point out, have in fact been proven not to work!
It s shocking how the Legacy Foundation can ignore the plight of those millions of smokers who want to but cannot quit, costing approximately 450,000 preventable premature deaths each and every year in our country alone, says Dr. Ross. It s deplorable how they can remain so tightly bound to the twentieth-century notion of abstinence and refuse to look at low-risk smokeless tobacco products. Such a stubborn stance reveals their dogma and its reliance on ideology.
As ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan points out, What they are effectively telling smokers who are thinking of quitting is: We don t know the risks of e-cigarettes, so stick to the FDA-approved methods, which don t work. And that said, you might as well keep on smoking.
Approximately three-quarters of current smokers wish to quit, and while one-third try each year, only five percent succeed. The e-cigarette has clear potential to reduce the number of smokers and the toll smoking takes on the body. Our hope is that the misleading hype surrounding e-cigarettes will not lead to their being driven off the market. Smokers need to be informed of the electronic cigarette as a viable, accessible option.