Science Races to Catch Up to E-Cigarettes' Popularity

By Leigh Cooper

SAN JOSE, California — Science has firmly labeled tobacco products hazardous to human health, but the consequences of using e-cigarettes are still hazy. While the popularity of these battery-powered devices that produce nicotine vapor explodes, scientists are hurrying to gather data on the use of e-cigarettes and their health effects. Meanwhile, e-cigarette companies and consumers are waiting for governments to create regulations using the limited science that is available. "E-cigarettes show tremendous promise as a tool for helping confirmed smokers that don't respond to other approaches to quitting smoking," said Wilson Compton, deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse during a 13 February press conference on the health effects of e-cigarettes at the AAAS Annual Meeting. "But for non-smokers and particularly adolescent non-smokers, e-cigarettes are not without some risks and concerns."

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AAAS 2015 Annual Meeting: E-cigarettes: Killing Me Softly or Our Greatest Public Health Opportunity?

Not since the Internet has society seen a comparative disruptive technology with the capacity to so fundamentally impact lives as the electronic cigarette. Hundreds of versions have sprung up, online sales are sky-rocketing and specialized e-cig shops cannot be built fast enough. Tens of millions of smokers have made the switch in a tidal-wave of support. Yet, are e-cigs ‘safe’ or simply ‘safer’ than classical cigarettes. If the former, shouldn’t all harm reduction advocates welcome them? Or does their nicotine-infused vapor risk developing cancer in certain types of human cells much in the same way that tobacco smoke does? Are they child-proof enough?Click to see the full session info here

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