The Rise Of E-Cigarettes

E-cigarettes are suddenly all over. Nicotine in a tube. Are they safe?

This photo taken on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, shows Blair Roberts, a 22-year-old sales associate at Colorado E-Smokes as he demonstrates the use of a electronic cigarette and the smoke like vapor that comes from it at an E-Smokes store in Aurora, Colo. (AP)

This photo taken on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, shows Blair Roberts, a 22-year-old sales associate at Colorado E-Smokes as he demonstrates the use of a electronic cigarette and the smoke like vapor that comes from it at an E-Smokes store in Aurora, Colo. (AP)

America fought for years to get out of the clutches of cigarettes and the ravages of tobacco.  Many Americans still fight to break free.  Now there’s a new player.  E-cigarettes.  All the nicotine of a cigarette, but none of the tar and gunk that lead to cancer – as far as we know.

You may have seen people puffing them.  Vapor in, vapor out.  No actual smoke.  But there’s a big debate over the net impact.  Are e-cigarettes a nifty way off of traditional smoking?  Or are they a new gateway to nicotine addiction and, ultimately, back to cigarettes?

This hour, On Point:  the e-cigarette dilemma.

— Tom Ashbrook


Christie Aschwanden, health columnist for the Washington Post. (@cragcrest)

Dr. Michael Siegel, medical doctor and professor of community health science at Boston University’s School of Public Health. (@mbsiegel)

Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research at the University of California San Francisco. (@profglantz)

Closing Segment on Insurance Exchanges

Julie Appleby, reporter for Kaiser Health News. (@julie_appleby)

Teresa Ghilarducci, labor economist and nationally-recognized expert in retirement security. Economics professor at The New School. (@tghilarducci)

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times (Dr. Michael Siegel): What’s Not to Like? — “Available scientific research confirms that electronic cigarettes are an effective smoking cessation and reduction strategy for many smokers. There is abundant clinical and survey evidence, and recently – clinical trial evidence – that literally hundreds of thousands of U.S. smokers have successfully quit or cut down substantially on the amount they smoke thanks to electronic cigarettes.

The Washington Post: E-cigarettes raise new questions about smoking — “Though e-cigarette makers do not make safety or health claims, many users assume that eliminating the smoke of burning tobacco also eliminates the harm. ‘There’s no question that e-cigarettes deliver fewer [toxic substances] than conventional cigarettes, but the question of how much less is still not clear,’ says Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California at San Francisco. ”

USA Today: E-cigarette use doubles among U.S. teens — “Last year, 10% of high school students say they tried e-cigarettes, up from 4.7% in 2011, according to the National Youth Tobacco Survey released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A doubling also occurred among U.S. middle school students saying they’ve experimented with e-cigarettes — from 1.4% to 2.7% — and similar spikes in teen usage were found in the 2013 Florida Youth Tobacco Survey.”

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