A new Congressionally mandated report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine titled Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes has been released, and the results are mixed. David East, chairman of the committee that wrote the report, notes that e-cigarettes are difficult to categorize as either harmful or not harmful. ““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.”
In a press release announcing the report, the National Academies stress that that report shows that while e-cigarettes are clearly not without risk, “they are likely to be far less harmful than conventional cigarettes. They contain fewer numbers and lower levels of toxic substances than conventional cigarettes, and using e-cigarettes may help adults who smoke conventional cigarettes quit smoking.” However, the report also warns that the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use are not yet known. “Among youth — who use e-cigarettes at higher rates than adults do — there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the risk of transitioning to smoking conventional cigarettes.”
The authors of the report have concluded that more research is needed “to help clarify whether e-cigarettes will prove to reduce harm—or induce harm—at the individual and the population levels. The net public health outcome of e-cigarette use depends on the balance between positive and negative consequences.”
Read highlights of the consensus study report here.