The past few years have seen an explosion in use of e-cigarettes and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), especially with young people.
Since e-cigs entered the market years ago, the news and information posted online often contain contradictory and confusing messages about their potential risks and benefits. This has lead many cigarette smokers to wonder if e-cigs will help them stop smoking and many parents to wonder if e-cigs are safe for their kids to use.
The confustion is made worse by the lack of agreement from experts. Linda Richter, PhD, at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, explains that in the past, experts were generally united against the tobacco industry and its ability to apply its tremendous resources to sway public opinion and government policies. But when it comes to e-cigs, she notes that experts interested in the public's health have differing viewpoints and many have mixed opinions about the risks and benefits of e-cigs.
"Many experts believe e-cigs have the potential to significants reduce or even eliminate tobacco smoking and its costly effects," said Dr. Richter. "But at the same time, some are also concerned that e-cigs are causing a new generation to get hooked on nicotine, just as our nation has finally begun to decline in youth cigarette smoking."
She added that the tobacco industry is applying many of the tactics it used for pushing cigarettes in their efforts to sell e-cigarettes and limit government regulation.
So what is the concerned smoker or parent supposed to think or do about it?
There's a new website, Expert Views: E-Cigarettes, that provides much-needed answers to common questions about e-cigarettes such as:
How do they work?
Are they addictive?
Are they dangerous?
Can they help you quit smoking?
The website summarizes the latest scientific evidence in a bold new way, featuring simple and accessible short commentary, infographics, news, and summaries of the latest research.
Dr. Richter and the Center especially hope that this new website will help parents become better educated about the risks and benefits of e-cigs and other vaping products and simplify this complex issue.
“We created this resource to provide a clear, balanced account of what is known about e-cigarettes – who's using them, what's appealing about them, how do they work, what are their risks,” said Dr. Richter. “The best way for parents to help their children make safe choices is to first know the facts.”