Globally, the use of e-cigarettes among young people aged 17 and under is increasing most rapidly; in the United States, e-cigarettes have largely replaced conventional high school cigarettes. Despite their popularity, the health effects of e-cigarette use are little known.To address rising e-cig safety concerns, the U.S. National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine convened an expert committee to conduct a critical, objective review of the peer-reviewed science available. The committee’s key findings were:
Exposure to nicotine and toxic substances: Depending on device characteristics and use, nicotine exposure from e-cigarette aerosol is extremely variable, but nicotine exposures can be comparable to conventional cigarette exposures. Most e-cigarettes contain and emit numerous potentially toxic substances, although the exposure to toxic substances with e-cigs is lower than with conventional cigarettes under typical conditions of use. E-cigarette use increases airborne particulate matter and nicotine concentrations in indoor environments compared to background levels, although second-hand exposure is likely lower than conventional cigarettes from e-cigarettes.
Dependence and abuse liability: E-cig use results in symptoms of dependence, although the risk and severity of dependence for e-cigarettes is probably lower than for conventional cigarettes, depending on the types of e-liquids and devices used. Use of e-cigarettes by youth and young adults’ increases their likelihood of using conventional cigarettes.
Harm reduction: Completely replacing conventional cigarettes with e-cigarettes reduces the exposure of users to many toxicants and carcinogens in conventional cigarettes and reduces short-term adverse health outcomes in multiple organ systems.
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