AHA wakes up, smells coffee
In a stunning reversal, the American Heart Association (AHA) has awakened from its slumbers and announced that electronic cigarettes have been found effective for smoking cessation. The “literature review” article has been published in the association's journal, Circulation.
The abstract states: “Studies have concluded that e-cigarettes can help reduce the number of cigarettes smoked and may be as effective for smoking cessation as the nicotine patch,” and further notes that there appears to be “no significant difference in adverse event rates between e-cigarettes and the nicotine patch.”
The authors (Caroline Franck, Talia Budlovsky, Sarah B. Windle, Kristian B. Filion, and Mark J. Eisenberg,) scanned 169 publications and chose 7 articles for review (Bullen et al. 2013 and 2011, Caponnetto et al. 2013 and 2013, Dawkins et al. 2012, Polosa et al. 2013 and 2011). The article stops short of recommending e-cigarette use as a clinical cessation method, and advises caution to clinicians, claiming that: “Rigorous scientific data are urgently needed to determine the relative potential of e-cigarettes to aid in smoking cessation compared with available therapies.” Nonetheless the more positive statement in the abstract strongly implies an endorsement of sorts.
This statement from such a prestigious organization, one on the front lines of the anti-smoking campaign, and one which has staunchly opposed e-cigarettes until now, is certainly grounds for celebration among harm reduction advocates in the public health community.
Greg Conley, who heads the American Vaping Association, issued a press release shortly after the article appeared, warmly welcoming the announcement, and recommending immediate action. "This study demonstrates exactly why e-cigarettes and vapor products have become so popular among smokers looking to quit,” said an ebullient Conley. “For smokers looking to quit, vaping is undeniably a viable option. Additionally, research continues to show that vaping is especially helpful for smokers who have tried and failed to quit multiple times with government-approved methods like the nicotine patch, gum, and lozenge. Genuine public health advocates should cheer this new study.”
Conley went on to warn that proposed deeming regulations by the FDA could exert a de facto ban on most existing products, an eventuality that would “hinder, not help, the FDA's goal of reducing tobacco-related disease and death.” He urges the introduction of a bipartisan bill in 2015, limiting the FDA's authority over such products.