Getting regular smokers to quit is a potential public health benefit of e-cigarettes, said Maciej Goniewicz, PhD, an assistant professor of oncology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences.

Goniewicz said that so far he sees e-cigarettes being mostly used by regular smokers — rather than first-time smokers — as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, offering another chance to quit after a relapse. Goniewicz is one of five authors of a Nicotine & Tobacco Research study published online in April 2012 that compared nicotine and organic compound vapors of 16 e-cigarette brands available in U.S., United Kingdom and Polish markets. The study found 300 puffs of e-cigarettes labeled as having high nicotine levels delivered 0.5 to 15.4 milligrams of nicotine — considered negligible compared to toxins in regular cigarettes.

Tim McAfee, MD, MPH, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and an APHA member, said it is reasonably certain that if someone who smoked a pack a day switched completely to e-cigarettes it could represent a benefit to health, but there are still many “caveats and ‘buts’ around that.”

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