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Open Access Publications from the University of California

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

  • Author(s): Besaratinia, Ahmad;
  • Tommasi, Stella
  • et al.

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, ). 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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