Are e-cigarettes a positive or negative force for public health?

Joseph Magero
Jul 2 · 2 min read

More than 1.1 billion people smoke cigarettes today, and the habit remains the leading preventable cause of illness and premature death. Figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) confirm that the number of people worldwide who smoke cigarettes, is falling. Against this backdrop, the trend in vaping is on the rise, with millions of people using a range of products.

In the United States for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 6.9 million adults, or 2.8 percent of all adults, were using e-cigarettes in 2017. This was the same year in which use of conventional cigarettes fell to its lowest level.

A systematic review suggests that e-cigarettes are less harmful than smoking and since they contain no tobacco and do not involve combustion, users may avoid several harmful constituents usually found in tobacco smoke, such as ash, tar, and carbon monoxide. However, e-cigarettes cannot be considered 100% harmless. Smokers who switch to e-cigarettes can expect to reduce their cancer risk because they are reducing their exposure to more than 70 known carcinogens in tobacco smoke.

Who stands to gain or lose from the vaping phenomenon?

Why do we constantly get mixed findings from different e cigarette studies and research? There seems to also be some obvious orchestrated campaigns against the use of ecigs, with fear mongering articles out every other day.

There are different camps with vested interests when it comes to electronic cigarettes. There’s the consumer, the regulator (Government, WHO F.C.T.C & Tobacco control), the researcher, the medical doctor, the distributor (Big Tobacco, Independent distributors) and Big Pharmaceuticals.

Big tobacco got into the vaping business quite late. They experienced a decrease in cigarette sales thanks to disruptive technology, forcing them to either adapt or face obliteration. Here is who I believe stands to lose from the vaping phenomenon;

- Big Pharma (for obvious reasons)

- WHO FCTC

- Tobacco control

Those that stand to gain from vaping are; Smokers! But unfortunately, in matters such as these it is really never about health, but money. Unless tobacco harm reduction makes economic sense to parties with vested interests, their stance on this issue will not change.

Here is what you need to know;

- For current cigarette smokers, e-cigarettes provide a less dangerous nicotine source, without exposure to tar or most of the poisonous gases in cigarette smoke.

- People who do not already smoke should avoid e-cigarettes.

Joseph Magero

Written by

Avid Tobacco Harm Reductionist