A recent study out of Europe is one of the first to have enough longitudinal data to provide a baseline to the continuing discussion of e-cigarettes. The conclusions of the authors are that e-cigarettes are an interesting alternative to smoking, and they believe their study can become a baseline in further comparisons of e-cigarettes versus other products for smokers.
Depending on which side of the fence you’re on, you either believe that this study validates the claims of e-cig proponents or it does not provide enough data to allow the use of e-cigs. The former believe that they can be an effective cessation tool and are far healthier than the alternative of continuing to smoke. Because the study focused on those not trying to smoke, it is also plausible to say the e-cigs may be the first real alternative that provides a smoking experience whether someone wants to quit or not. The latter believe e-cigarettes are dangerous and need to be regulated or even banned.
What is important is this study, along with some from VCU and elsewhere, are the first in what all expect to be a plethora of new research on the use, efficacy, and safety of e-cigarettes. Debate will and should occur on the conclusions.
Our conclusion: the study validates the need to have both a throat hit and tactile sensation to be most effective, whether nicotine is present or not. It also highlights the importance that solutions for a market need to appeal to the consumer at least as much as the alternative. For example, I’m not interested in taking chemotherapy just so my hair can fall out. The alternative is worse, so I’m willing to accept the negative side effects. For a smoker, they choose whether the alternatives are reasonable and appealing to them. Once those alternatives are appealing, they will switch because they understand the dangers of smoking. Finally, it also highlights the need to continue to do research to confirm all that we already believe and what we still need to learn. But this need should not delay what is by all measures a healthier alternative than smoking.