In light of mounting evidence regarding the detrimental health effects of vaping, medical professionals are increasingly advising against the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. The American Psychiatric Association and the American College of Cardiology have recently issued stern warnings against the use of e-cigarettes, even as an alternative to conventional smoking.
According to an article published in ABC News, Dr. Petros Levounis, President of the American Psychiatric Association and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, emphasized that for current smokers seeking to quit, there are safe and effective FDA-approved interventions available. Despite the soaring popularity of e-cigarettes, he urged people to explore other scientifically proven methods to quit smoking.
One of the main concerns about e-cigarettes is their impact on heart health, especially in individuals with chronic heart disease. Dr. Naomi Hamburg, a Cardiologist, and Professor of Medicine at Boston University, revealed that studies have shown e-cigarettes to raise heart rate, and blood pressure, and impair blood vessel function even in young individuals. Consequently, the American College of Cardiology’s new medical guidelines strongly discourage the use of e-cigarettes, particularly for those with heart conditions.
The popularity of e-cigarettes has grown considerably since their introduction to the U.S. market in 2007, with sales rising by approximately 50% in just the last two years. Their appeal has been attributed to factors such as various flavor options, perceived reduced harm compared to traditional cigarettes, more manageable odor, and targeted marketing campaigns aimed at vulnerable populations, including youth. However, research has indicated that the negative health effects of e-cigarettes extend beyond the lungs and may impact the entire body.
A significant health concern associated with e-cigarettes is EVALI (E-cigarette or Vaping-use Associated Lung Injury), a condition that not only damages the lungs but can also affect other organ systems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that illicit THC vaping products were primarily responsible for the EVALI outbreak in 2019.
Dr. Jason Rose, a Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician and Associate Professor of Medicine at The University of Maryland, stressed that despite some e-cigarettes containing lower levels of harmful chemicals compared to conventional cigarettes, no tobacco products are considered safe. Therefore, the claim that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking has been disputed by medical experts.
Furthermore, doctors are alarmed by the emerging trend of a “dual use pattern” where individuals attempting to quit smoking may resort to using both e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes. This combination is particularly detrimental to blood vessels and significantly raises the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues. Frances Daniels, a parent, and volunteer at Parents Against Vaping, shared the distressing experience of watching her 17-year-old child suffer from EVALI and spend five weeks in the Intensive Care Unit, narrowly avoiding a lung transplant.
To combat smoking addiction, medical professionals recommend sticking to FDA-approved products. Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) with patches, gum, or inhalers, as well as medications like Bupropion or Varenicline, are proven and effective methods. In some cases, cognitive behavioral therapy may also be required to achieve successful smoking cessation.
Although e-cigarettes are not currently approved by the FDA as smoking cessation tools, some companies continue to seek approval for this purpose. The FDA maintains that further research is necessary to determine their safety and efficacy for individuals wishing to quit smoking. Dr. Hamburg asserted that as smoking cessation tools, e-cigarettes are not ideal, and other scientifically validated options should be prioritized.
In conclusion, the growing body of evidence pointing to the negative health impacts of e-cigarettes has prompted doctors to strongly discourage their use as a smoking cessation tool. With safe and effective alternatives readily available, medical professionals emphasize the importance of adhering to FDA-approved methods to quit smoking and safeguarding individual and public health.