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An opportune and unique research to evaluate the public health impact of electronic cigarettes.

Abstract

In response to the growing public health concern regarding the risks or benefits of electronic cigarettes (e-cig) use relative to smoking, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has recently introduced the first standardized- and well- characterized e-cig device to the research community (see, https://www.drugabuse.gov/funding/supplemental-information-nida-e-cig ). E-cig are promoted as safe alternatives to conventional tobacco cigarettes and/or as aides to smoking cessation. E-cig are highly popular among cigarette smokers who are unable/unwilling to quit but are willing to switch to putatively less-harmful tobacco substitutes. E-cig are also becoming increasingly popular among youth who have never experimented with combustible cigarettes. However, chemical analyses of e-cig juices (both in liquid form and after being heated into vapor) have shown that many carcinogens present in cigarette smoke are also found in a range of e-cig products. To date, the cancer-causing potential of e-cig has not been investigated in e-cig users (i.e., vapers). Use of e-cig without a prior history of smoking is currently a rare phenomenon in adults, but is increasingly common among youth. Consequently, investigating the carcinogenic potential of e-cig in nonsmoking youth provides a unique opportunity to verify the health impact of e-cig use, without the confounding effects of cigarette smoking. Within this context, the availability of the NIDA Standard Research e-cig offers a unique research opportunity with tremendous public health implications. Comparing and contrasting the cancer-causing potentials of standard vaping and smoking in youth will help determine the health risks or benefits of e-cig use relative to cigarette smoking. This information will be instrumental in making scientifically based decisions on the development and evaluation of policies and regulations on e-cig manufacture, marketing, and distribution. Ultimately, evidence-based guidelines and legislations on e-cig will help reduce the burden of tobacco-related diseases, particularly on minors and vulnerable populations.

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