Health Concerns Grow Over E-Cigarette Use in U.S.

Little is known about potential health risks

The use of electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices has stalled in the United States as more Americans question their safety, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll.

Approximately 10% of 9,766 adults surveyed between April 19 and May 16 said they use the devices––the same percentage as in a similar Reuters/Ipsos survey conducted in May 2015. This year, however, a growing percentage of participants expressed negative attitudes toward e-cigarettes. For example, 47% of respondents said vaping was not healthier than smoking conventional cigarettes, compared with 38% who felt that way a year ago.

Forty-three percent said they did not believe vaping could help people quit smoking, compared with 39% who held that view in 2015. A majority of respondents (66%) said that vaping can be addictive, compared with 61% in 2015. In addition, 49% said vaping could have a similar effect to that of second-hand tobacco smoke, compared with 42% last year.

E-cigarettes are metal tubes that heat liquids typically laced with nicotine and deliver vapor when inhaled. The liquids come in thousands of flavors, from cotton candy to pizza. Use of the devices has grown quickly during the last decade, with U.S. sales expected to reach $4.1 billion in 2016, according to Wells Fargo Securities. Sales were down 6% in the first quarter of 2016, however.

The health care community remains divided over the devices, according to Reuters. Some experts are concerned about how little is known about the potential health risks. They are especially worried about rising teen e-cigarette use and fear that the practice may get a new generation hooked on nicotine.

The FDA issued its first rules regulating e-cigarettes earlier this month, banning their sale and advertising to minors, and requiring that manufacturers submit their products for approval.

Source: Reuters; May 24, 2016.