e-cigarettes, a new form of tobacco, are being hailed as a cheaper alternative to traditional cigarettes, as companies try to overcome concerns about the health effects of inhaling vapour.
Key points:The tobacco industry fears they could be less harmful than smokingTraditional cigarettes can contain hundreds of carcinogens and lead to lung cancer and heart disease.
But they are safer than electronic cigarettes, with no combustion and less harmful to the lungs.
Now e-cigs are being marketed to smokers with little or no scientific evidence linking their use to harmful health effects.
Researchers have found e-cig vapour to be less carcinogenic than cigarette smoke.
But in a study published today in the journal Tobacco Control, researchers found there was a lack of evidence that the vapour from e-liquids is more carcinogenic.
Dr James McManus, from the University of Sydney’s School of Medicine, said the lack of research linking e-juices to harm was a serious concern for e-liquid manufacturers.
“What we’ve been able to do is to demonstrate that there’s no evidence that e-vapor has any harmful effects on the lungs,” he said.
“The evidence for that is very small, and I don’t think there’s any evidence that that’s been established.”
The findings come as the world’s largest e-commerce site Amazon, which has been aggressively marketing e-books, toys and other goods, is planning to launch a new line of e-tobacco products.
A company spokesman said Amazon was “taking the necessary steps to assess the safety and effectiveness of our products” but added that the company was not yet making any decisions on which e-products would be available to customers.
“We have the highest quality e-mail and customer support on the planet, and we’re taking the necessary measures to ensure that our e-bargains are safe and that they’re good for the consumer,” the spokesman said.
The report was commissioned by the US tobacco company Altria Group and is the latest in a series of reports on e-smoking and the risks posed by its use.
In a separate study, published earlier this month, researchers at the University for Tobacco Control in the US found e.cigs had higher levels of tar and particulate matter than conventional cigarettes.
A spokesman for the company said it had no plans to introduce e-smokes in its stores.
“Altria is exploring the feasibility of eSmoke products in our stores, but we have no plans at this time to offer them in our retail stores,” the company spokesman told Reuters news agency.
“It is our position that tobacco products are safe to use and that smoking is an addiction and a public health issue.”
A spokeswoman for the American Lung Association said there was little evidence that cigarette smoking had increased in recent years.
“Although smoking is a leading cause of disease and death, there’s still a lot of information about the impact of tobacco smoking on the health of smokers,” the spokeswoman said.
But the American Cancer Society said it welcomed the results from the study.
“While we don’t recommend e-flavours be used as an alternative to cigarettes, we recognize that their use as a smokeless tobacco alternative may be a viable option for some smokers,” said Dr Jennifer Jervis, from ATS.
“They’re safer than conventional cigarette alternatives and they’re less harmful.”
However, she added that there was no proof that eflavoured tobacco would be less dangerous than regular cigarettes.
“That’s something that the US Environmental Protection Agency is investigating and we have not yet determined whether that’s something they’ll recommend in the United States,” she said.
In the UK, the Government is also studying the effects of eflabs.