US researchers predict millions fewer deaths
For many smokers, electric cigarettes are considered a healthier alternative to the classic tobacco cigarette. However, experts repeatedly warn of downplaying the evaporators. Accordingly, e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco - but still unhealthy. American scientists have now calculated how many lives could be saved by "vaping". The result: In the United States alone, at least 1.6 million premature deaths could be prevented if the majority of smokers switched to the vaporizer.
Consumers hope for healthier smoking
Since the e-cigarette came onto the market about ten years ago, the number of consumers has been increasing continuously. Many smokers believe that "vaping" is less harmful to health, others want to quit smoking and hope that the vaporizers will make it easier to stop smoking. Indeed, some studies show that e-cigarettes can help quit. US researchers have now calculated how many lives could be saved by switching from normal "tipping" to vaporizers.
Researchers map two scenarios
The researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center set up a model calculation, depicting an optimistic and a pessimistic scenario, the authors report to Dr. David T. Levy in the specialist magazine “Tabacco Control” (BMJ Journals). According to this, the former is based above all on the current usage patterns for e-cigarettes and published assessments of damage minimization, while the pessimistic scenario is supposed to reflect the “worst case” of damage to health from vaping.
Switching to e-cigarettes prevents millions of premature deaths
The researchers' model calculations showed that the optimistic scenario reduced the number of users of conventional cigarettes to just five percent within ten years. According to the forecasts, the other smokers had managed to switch to e-cigarettes during this period. As a result, 6.6 million premature deaths and with them the loss of 86.7 million years of life could be prevented, the scientists write. Young people would have the greatest benefit from switching to a vaporizer, because on average they would gain half a year more life.
Substitution with e-cigarettes offers great potential
In the pessimistic scenario, the proportion of smokers only dropped to ten percent, the number of young people using e-cigarettes also increased and the risks from vaping were rated higher. But even under these conditions, 1.6 million premature deaths and thus 20.8 million fewer years of life were averted.
"Our analysis shows that a hypothetical substitution of tobacco by e-cigarettes offers enormous potential to prevent premature death from smoking and that there is only a relatively small amount of premature death from e-cigarettes," the scientists said in their Items.
Vaping is not harmless per se
However, the numbers of the US researchers are only a theoretical model calculation. Long-term experience of the consequences of vaping has so far been lacking, so it is currently not possible to clearly say how many people have been saved by e-cigarettes. The German Addiction Society - umbrella organization of addiction societies (DSG) has summarized the current state of knowledge in a position paper and derived initial recommendations.
No final assessment is possible yet
E-cigarettes could therefore not be considered harmless per se. Because the inhaled vapor (aerosol) contains not only nicotine but also carcinogenic and toxic substances such as formaldehyde or acetaldehyde. Under no circumstances should non-smokers, and especially young people, be tempted to start using nicotine via vaporizers.
On the other hand, according to the experts, the inhalation from e-cigarettes is significantly less harmful than tobacco smoke. Anyone who has previously smoked normal cigarettes can therefore benefit from switching to the electrical alternative. The bottom line, however, is that the current data situation does not yet allow a final judgment on the e-cigarette to be made, the experts from the DSG emphasize. (No)