Do Less Harm: E-Cigarettes a Safer Option Than Smoking – NYU News (press release)

Quitting smoking is among the top New Year’s resolutions, but is notoriously difficult to do and often requires multiple attempts and strategies.

A growing body of research points to using a harm minimization approach for smoking cessation. Harm minimization recognizes that while quitting smoking altogether is ideal, reducing exposure to harmful cigarette smoke by switching to safer nicotine products like e-cigarettes is beneficial.

A new article publishing in the forthcoming volume of the Annual Review of Public Health focuses on harm minimization and smoking cessation, with alternative nicotine products like e-cigarettes emerging as a promising avenue for people who want to quit smoking. Compared with vaping, smoking is much more harmful and prematurely kills over half of lifetime smokers.

“Studies show that if most current American smokers switched to vaping e-cigarettes over the next 10 years, there could be as many as 6.6 million fewer premature deaths and 86.7 million fewer life years would be lost,” said David Abrams, PhD, professor of social and behavioral sciences at NYU College of Global Public Health and the article’s lead author.

“The safest course is to stop smoking or, better, never to start. But a harm minimization approach recognizes that demanding absolute perfection is often counterproductive and that, when a harmful behavior cannot be eliminated, we can still dramatically reduce adverse health consequences.”

Correcting Misconceptions About Nicotine
When people smoke cigarettes, they consume nicotine in a lethal mix of carbon monoxide and 70 known cancer-causing chemicals; contrary to what some may believe, however, nicotine causes little if any of the health harms of smoking. The toxic smoke inhaled is the culprit and is the overwhelming cause of tobacco-related disease and death.

Many alternative nicotine products have been developed—including e-cigarettes and nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges—that do not burn tobacco and are therefore substantially less harmful.

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