E-cigarettes: helpful quitting aid versus a risk for teens?

Electronic cigarettes (also called e-cigarettes) are battery-powered, cigarette-like devices that contain replaceable nicotine cartridges instead of tobacco.  E-cigarettes have been the subject of debate since they were first marketed in the US in 2007. While some hail e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to tobacco smoke, others fear they’ll make smoking seem artificially safe – especially for children and teens. 

A new study released last week has brought more attention to the e-cigarettes debate, finding that they may hold potential as a tool to help people quit smoking. The study followed smokers who had no intention of quitting over a one-year period. The smokers were given e-cigarettes with varying doses of nicotine. Thirteen percent of the smokers who received the highest doses of nicotine were no longer smoking tobacco at the end of the year.

We have asked adults across the US, in the National Poll on Children’s Health, for their opinions on the e-cigarettes debate. Nearly half of adults said they were very concerned that e-cigarettes may increase smoking among youth and 42% said they were very concerned that it is easy for minors to buy e-cigarettes.

Additionally, adults expressed widespread support for laws regulating e-cigarettes: 91% said manufacturers should be required to test e-cigarettes for safety and 81% said the sales of e-cigarettes to minors should be prohibited. Read the full report: For e-cigarettes, public supports health warnings & ban on sales to minors.

Where do you stand on the e-cigarettes debate? Does their potential as a smoking cessation tool outweigh concerns about children and teens using them to start smoking? Share your thoughts in the comments!