Amid e-cigarette boom, journal says key questions remain unanswered

The prominent scientific journal Nature has lamented a lack of strong evidence on key questions regarding the safety of electronic cigarettes and whether it helps smokers quit smoking tobacco products.

This came as the e-cigarette sales boomed to US$11.3 billion (RM46.9 billion) in 2018 worldwide, according to figures cited by the journal, and there is an increasing concern as they gain popularity among adolescents and young adults.

“With so few data, researchers’ debate over e-cigarettes has been divisive and sometimes emotional.

“Proponents of e-cigarettes see a way to help the millions who are trying to quit smoking and stem the grave harm caused by tobacco.

“Vaping critics – some of whom have received death threats after giving public talks critical of the devices – fear they could lose ground in the decades-long battle against tobacco and create a generation of e-cigarette addicts.

“They see the spectre of Big Tobacco – the five largest global tobacco companies – rising again…

“The right policies on e-cigarettes – ones that minimise risks – will be built on evidence and collaboration, not on opinion and vitriol.

“It might be too early to say whether e-cigarettes will make a major difference in helping adult smokers to quit. It’s the right time for regulators to protect the next generations from having to,” Nature said in an editorial published yesterday.

It added that until key questions regarding e-cigarette use are resolved, it is premature to strongly advocate for its use, and regulators must develop guidelines to limit vaping by adolescents.


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