Pulmonologists: E-cigarettes pave the way for tobacco use
E-cigarettes are considered by many smokers to be a healthier alternative to the classic tobacco cigarette, but health experts warn against playing down the electric vaporizers: They can make young people in particular nicotine-dependent and pave the way for tobacco consumption.
Do e-cigarettes help you quit or seduce you to smoke?
E-cigarette consumption has increased significantly in recent years. The question of whether the electric vaporizers tempt you to smoke or help with weaning has not been finally clarified. Some users hope that the electric vaporizers will make it easier to stop smoking. In fact, studies have shown that e-cigarettes can help quit. On the other hand, scientific studies have repeatedly found that they are not harmless. The German Society for Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine (DGP) also sees it that way. According to the experts, e-cigarettes, shishas and heat sticks make young people addicted to nicotine and pave the way for tobacco use.
Less harmful than tobacco
"Smokers often use e-cigarettes as a less harmful alternative to tobacco cigarettes," wrote the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg in a message.
"However, a health advantage can only be expected if you switch to e-cigarettes completely and at the same time completely do without tobacco cigarettes," said the experts.
The electronic cigarettes are “by no means harmless”.
Inhaling e-cigarettes, hookahs and tobacco heaters is also only of limited suitability for smoking cessation: the German Society for Pneumology and Respiratory Medicine (DGP) points this out at its congress in Dresden.
One million Germans smoke e-cigarettes
According to the experts in a communication published by the "Informationsdienst Wissenschaft" (idw), an estimated one million Germans smoked e-cigarettes regularly in 2016.
"The sweet taste of the e-cigarette and the wide range of flavors make vaping particularly popular with young people and increase acceptance for smoking," said pneumologist Dr. med. Peter Kardos.
US studies have shown that the e-cigarette can pave the way for conventional tobacco use.
"Tobacco companies are entering the e-cigarette business to improve the image of smoking and to attract more young people to daily consumption," said Kardos.
Substances harmful to health
The DGP points out that inhalation products such as e-cigarettes and water pipes are addictive substances that are hazardous to health and should therefore be subject to the same legal regulations as tobacco products.
According to Kardos, based on the current study situation, it cannot be assessed what inhalation of vaping e-cigarettes, hookahs and tobacco heaters means for health in the long term.
After the start of industrial production, it also took a good 30 years for conventional cigarettes until it was scientifically determined that smoking caused lung cancer.
"E-cigarettes do not contain any combustion products - but the aerosol produced when vaping also contains inflammation-promoting, irritating and carcinogenic substances that can damage the lungs in the long term."
Another American study found evidence that adolescents who vape regularly have bronchitis twice as often as their non-smoking peers.
In addition, most e-cigarettes contain the addictive nicotine, which may itself be carcinogenic.
No meaningful information
As the experts write, it is also not scientifically proven whether e-cigarettes can help quit smoking. A current meta-analysis found no meaningful evidence for this.
Nevertheless, the industry advertises e-cigarettes and so-called tobacco heaters (heat sticks) that emit nicotine without combustion products - as a replacement product for smokers.
Experts argue that heat sticks can make it more difficult to stop smoking because they maintain the ritual of smoking. Many users still regularly use a tobacco cigarette.
"If you want to quit smoking - or have to quit for health reasons - you should primarily seek support in professional weaning programs, medication and nicotine replacement products," said Kardos. (ad)