The Emerging Phenomenon of Electronic Cigarettes

Pasquale Caponnetto; Davide Campagna; Gabriella Papale; Cristina Russo; Riccardo Polosa


Expert Rev Resp Med. 2012;6(1):63-74. 

In This Article


Tobacco smoking is a global pandemic, affecting an estimated 1.2 billion people, which poses substantial health burden and costs. With nearly 6 million tobacco-related deaths annually, smoking is the single most important cause of avoidable premature mortality in the world.[46] Death is mainly caused by lung cancer, coronary heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stroke.[47,48] According to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a significant reduction in the health burden of tobacco in the medium term may be obtained by encouraging cessation among smokers.[49]

However, in reality, the efficacy of current smoking-cessation interventions is modest and far too many smokers are unwilling or unable to quit. Thus, a broader range of interventions are needed in order to bring more smokers into treatment and increase the numbers who are motivated to make attempts to quit. Alternatively, tobacco smoking could be replaced by 'vaping'. Given that neither tobacco nor combustion are necessary for its operation, it is likely that electronic cigarettes could be used as a lower risk substitute for tobacco cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes may prove to be the most promising solution for the reduction in the use of traditional cigarettes and their associated risk, with the positive features of these products clearly outweighing the negative features (Table 2). Clearly, other valid options for tackling nicotine dependence in smokers exist, but it is still a personal choice of how to introduce nicotine into his/her body. Each individual smoker should find the best way to reduce or eliminate his or her own smoking. In theory, at least for Westernized cultures, 'vaping' is a far better option than smoking, and it could save millions of lives.


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