While electronic cigarettes are positioned as a potential harm reduction tool for traditional cigarette smokers, new research shows e-cigarettes are not the lesser of two evils when it comes to cardiovascular disease.

In fact, e-cigarettes damage a smoker’s arteries and blood vessels much like smoking combustible cigarettes, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

This flies in the face of common beliefs by governments, health authorities and smokers that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to regular cigarettes because they contain a limited number of ingredients.

According to the study: “The perception that e‐cigarettes are safer than combustible cigarettes is widespread, with the majority of adult e‐cigarette users reporting that the primary reason for use is the perception that e‐cigarettes pose less of a health risk than combustible cigarette smoking. Consequently, e‐cigarettes have drawn significant attention as a potential way to reduce harm”

Researchers set out to examine whether e-cigarettes are indeed a safer alternative.

What they found is “abnormalities in vascular stiffness persist in e‐cigarette users and that, at least within the limitations of our cohort and measurement approaches, there was no evidence that the use of e‐cigarettes reduces cardiovascular injury, dysfunction, or harm associated with the use of combustible tobacco products.”

While the damaging effects of smoking traditional cigarettes are well known and widely accepted by governments, health care providers, the general public and even smokers themselves, the challenge is now getting all stakeholders is buy into the latest research about e-cigarettes.

Anti-smoking campaigns have long played a key roll in highlighting the risks of smoking cigarettes and encouraging smokers to quit. Now, a new wave of health care communications and public awareness campaigns are essential in order to change common perceptions about the relative safety of e-cigarettes and encourage people to not only butt out, but also unplug.

 

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