E-Cigarettes (Part 6)

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Van Staden’s findings – like many of the nascent studies around e-cigarettes – provide hints, guides, clues of what we might discover as the research matures and study samples and systems expand (the South African study followed just 13 participants), but they do n’t give us definitive answers yet. Cancer researchers in the US are conducting tests to workout if long-term exposure to e-cigarette vapor produces similar gene behaviours to those
caused by exposure to tobacco smoke (early evidence suggests there might be similarities).

Biological studies take biological time, and the truth is that for now we just do n’t know. Where research may provide faster, more definitive results is in the area of smoking cessation – although, even here, current findings are producing a barrage of mixed messages.

A New Zealand study published last year found that e-cigarettes were “modestly effective at helping smokers to quit, with similar achievement of abstinence as with nicotine patches”. Six months later a US study determined that were not associated with a greater rate of quitting, or even reducing [tobacco] cigarette consumption… As the e-cigarette industry expands – all the Big Tobacco companies have since jumped on the band wagon, with most already planning or about to launch their own (or buying up an existing smaller) e-cigarette brands – there is a growing consumer and commercial lobby with avested interest in, somehow, legitimizing the use and marketing of e-cigarettes. Whether or not this is in our best interests is… a little hazy.


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