n South African Medical Journal - The electronic cigarettes debate : editorial




Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are relatively new in South Africa and their popularity is increasing. Their appearance coincides with intensifying attempts by government and society to reduce tobacco smoking through stricter limitation on its sale, advertising and use. Debate has been triggered on their use regarding the potential risks of increasing nicotine addiction and encouraging people to start smoking, or whether e-cigarettes might serve rather as an efficient means of treating addiction, thus assisting smokers to quit.

Opinions among doctors regarding e-cigarettes vary, some seeing potential for good, others condemning them outright. Several professional medical societies have taken the stand that, whatever their potential as a smoking-cessation method, they cannot be encouraged since they are produced and promoted by the tobacco industry. Also, that research supported by the manufacturers of e-cigarettes may not be presented at their meetings or in their medical journals.
We present the following arguments for the potential benefit and harms of e-cigarettes, based on the currently available evidence.


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