“Electronic cigarettes are a recent development in tobacco harm reduction. They are marketed as less harmful alternatives to smoking. Awareness and use of these devices has grown exponentially in recent years, with millions of people currently using them. This systematic review appraises existing laboratory and clinical research on the potential risks from electronic cigarette use, compared with the well-established devastating effects of smoking tobacco cigarettes. Currently available evidence indicates that electronic cigarettes are by far a less harmful alternative to smoking and significant health benefits are expected in smokers who switch from tobacco to electronic cigarettes. Research will help make electronic cigarettes more effective as smoking substitutes and will better define and further reduce residual risks from use to as low as possible, by establishing appropriate quality control and standards.
Complete tobacco cessation is the best outcome for smokers. However, the powerful addictive properties of nicotine and the ritualistic behavior of smoking create a huge hurdle, even for those with a strong desire to quit. Until recently, smokers were left with just two alternatives: either quit or suffer the harmful consequences of continued smoking. This gloomy scenario has allowed the smoking pandemic to escalate, with nearly 6 million deaths annually and a predicted death toll of 1 billion within the 21st century [World Health Organization, 2013]. But a third choice, involving the use of alternative and much safer sources of nicotine with the goal to reduce smoking-related diseases is now available: tobacco harm reduction (THR) [Rodu and Godshall, 2006].”
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