There has been a lot of back and forth debate over e-cigs lately, with both sides making plausible arguments for or against. However, without any long term scientific proof - and the number of studies and funding that would be required - we have to rely upon expert opinions at the present to figure things out.
That's what is going on with the proposal by seven international experts on tobacco for the FDA. They are urging that the FDA be "open-minded" when it comes to regulating e-cigs because they show a strong potential to help people quit smoking or reduce intake without causing more harm - and are overall deemed safer than a cigarette is.
In a late April publication of the Addiction journal, they suggest that e-cigs can promote reduced tobacco intake for smokers while helping to "potentially" reduce the associated death rate too.
"We're concerned the FDA, which has asserted its right to regulate e-cigarettes, will focus solely on the possibility that e-cigarettes and other vapor nicotine products might act as gateway to cigarette use," wrote David T. Levy, a professor of oncology at the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
"We believe that the discussion to date has been slanted against e-cigarettes, which is unfortunate, because the big picture tells us that these products appear to be used mostly by people who already are or who are likely to become cigarette smokers," Levy added.
Smoking rates have fallen consistently each year. They are down over 50 percent since the 60's, but still have a dramatic risk of death attached to their usage. Lung cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer type and is a direct cause of smoking in most cases.
But with e-cigs, people have a viable, affordable alternative to smoking that may be the safer route to cessation, the authors wrote, emphasizing that they should not be overtaxed because that could cause smokers to go right back to the habit instead of quitting or trying to quit.
"Increasing e-cigarette prices by taxing them the same way as cigarettes will discourage youth VNP use, but also discourage use by smokers, especially those of lower socioeconomic status, who are trying to quit," Levy wrote.