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

Expert Commentary

For many years, several experts in tobacco control have been hoping to witness an efficient method to deliver nicotine. The electronic cigarette has the potential of being such a method, because it can provide smokers with what they want thanks to the combined effect of hand-to-mouth motion and nicotine. It is also much safer than a lit cigarette. In the author's opinion, smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit represent a formidable target for health intervention. To this end, the electronic cigarette is an opportunity not to be missed. The urge to better understand the potential of their role in the smoker's life prompted us to set up several trials to investigate the electronic cigarette and from this ongoing experience we have learned several things. First, smokers appear to be buying them to reduce cigarette consumption and, most importantly, to continue having a 'smoking' experience, but with reduced health risks. Second, the results from the clinical trials are promising and agree with what seems to be occurring in the real world, that almost all 'vapers' are former smokers and many report not actively trying to quit until they tried electronic cigarette. Third, these products appear to be much safer than tobacco cigarettes and comparable in toxicity to conventional nicotine-replacement products. Fourth, not all electronic cigarettes are the same; earlier models are hampered by inadequate manufacturing standards, but much improved models are in progress to foster their wider adoption and a steeper reduction in smoking prevalence. Finally, providing truthful information about this product may convince smokers that 'vaping' is one of the most harmless method of obtaining nicotine.


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