E-Cigarettes as Harmful as Regular Cigarettes: Doctors

Wed Aug 02 2023
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NEW YORK: Doctors are increasingly advising against the use of e-cigarettes, stating that they are as harmful to health as regular cigarettes, even as a means to quit smoking. Mounting evidence of the significant negative impact of e-cigarettes on health has led medical experts to caution against their use.

Dr. Petros Levounis, President of the American Psychiatric Association and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, asserts that there are powerful, safe, and FDA-approved interventions available for current smokers looking to quit.

Recent medical guidelines from the American College of Cardiology, released in July, strongly discourage the use of e-cigarettes, especially for individuals with chronic heart disease. Dr. Naomi Hamburg, a Cardiologist and Professor of Medicine at Boston University, points out that even in young people, e-cigarettes have been shown to raise heart rate, blood pressure, and disrupt blood vessel relaxation. Therefore, opting for proven, safe alternatives is highly recommended.

While the FDA acknowledges that e-cigarettes may contain fewer harmful chemicals than traditional cigarettes, it maintains that no tobacco products are deemed safe. Dr. Jason Rose, a pulmonary and critical care physician, and an associate professor of medicine at The University of Maryland School of Medicine, underscores that it is not possible to conclude that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes.

Health Risks Associated with E-Cigarettes

Doctors warn against a “dual use pattern,” where individuals attempting to quit smoking may turn to e-cigarettes in addition to traditional cigarettes. This practice can have a particularly harmful combined effect on blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.

The distressing story of a 17-year-old child who ended up in the Intensive Care Unit for five weeks due to EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury) highlights the potential risks associated with e-cigarette use, even for recreational purposes.

For smoking cessation, doctors recommend sticking to FDA-approved products, such as Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) like patches, gum, or inhalers, and medications like Bupropion or Varenicline. Combining NRTs is often suggested for better results. Psychosocial options like cognitive behavioural therapy can also be beneficial in some cases.

E-cigarettes lack FDA approval as smoking cessation tools, and companies continue to seek such approval. The FDA insists that further research is needed to establish their safety for those seeking to quit tobacco cigarettes. Dr. Hamburg asserts that in the realm of smoking cessation tools, e-cigarettes are deemed less than ideal, with safer and scientifically proven alternatives available.

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