Public health series takes on e-cigarettes

Brandon Paykamian • Apr 14, 2018 at 12:52 AM

Health experts are beginning to take a closer look at the potential harmful effects of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, which are often marketed as a safe alternative to smoking.

While they are safer than traditional tobacco-filled cigarettes, according to East Tennessee State University public health professor Dr. Hadii Mamudu, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are 100 percent safe.

“The evidence on its impact on health is not strong enough; it’s still evolving,” he said.

The next talk in the Leading Voices in Public Health lecture series offered by ETSU’s College of Public Health, “E-Cigarettes and Other Newer Nicotine Delivery Products: What We Know Now,” will explore the evolving research on “vaping.”

The event will be held Tuesday, April 17, at 6 p.m. in the Millennium Centre.

Mamudu said Dr. Judith Groner, who serves as program director of the Academic General Pediatrics Programs at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a clinical professor of pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, will be the keynote speaker.

At the lecture, Mamudu, who has also conducted extensive research on tobacco and nicotine products, said Groner will further explore three concerns he and other health experts have about e-cigarettes.

Increasing use among the youth population

Mamudu said recent research has indicated more minors and young adults are using e-cigarettes. This increasing use of nicotine products has been a cause for concern among many public health experts.

While the product is advertised as a way to quit smoking, this is often the first nicotine product tried among youth today, according to Mamudu.

“The major concern is looking at the youth population. For the past two to three years, e-cigarette use has surpassed the use of traditional cigarettes among the youth,” he said. “Because of e-cigarettes, they are now picking up nicotine products.”

“Vaping” as a gateway to smoking

Another concern some health experts have about e-cigarettes is their potential for encouraging smoking among the youth. Mamudu said the “youth profile” of those who use e-cigarettes show an opposite trend — they are going from “vaping” to smoking cigarettes or cigars.

“One main concern is that they’ve never used cigarettes, so e-cigarettes are bringing in more nicotine users among the youth population,” he said. “The idea that it will help youth quit smoking is not true.”

Dual usage of both cigarettes and e-cigarettes

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns researchers have about e-cigarette use among the youth population is dual usage, according to Mamudu. He said recent research has indicated that much of the youth population is using both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes.

Many are simply using “vaping” as a temporary alternative in situations when they can’t smoke, which increases daily nicotine intake. Because of these concerns, the Tennessee Department of Health does not recommend e-cigarettes as a means of quitting smoking.

“There’s also increasing dual use of combustible tobacco and picking up e-cigarettes, and they don't quit combustible tobacco — they use both simultaneously,” Mamudu said.

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