New York Public Health Expert Discusses E-Cigs On CBS

In an interview aired earlier this week on CBS This Morning’s, Tony Dokoupil interviewed David Abrams, a New York University College of Public Health Professor, about the benefits of e-cigarettes and how the US vaping reports that are making the news could cause more damage than good.

At the start of the interview, the question is asked why there is such a big difference between how e-cigarettes are viewed in the UK as opposed the US.

Dr Abrams states that he feels the public opinion towards e-cigarettes in the US has been skewed by the problem with youth vaping and the influences of big tobacco. The ‘epidemic’ of underage vapers in the US has been a big factor in the recent decision by the Trump administration to pursue the banning of non-tobacco flavoured e-liquids, as a way to make e-cigarettes less appealing to young people.

This youth vaping problem has not been mirrored in the UK, where only 2% of young people are reported to regularly use an e-cigarette, with the majority being current or ex-smokers. In the UK, e-cigarettes have been recognised for their intended purpose, as a less harmful nicotine delivery system for use as a stop smoking aid, with public health organisations such as Public Health England and Cancer Research UK endorsing e-cigarettes as an effective alternative for smokers.

While we will not know if there are any long term risks associated with e-cigarette use for around 50 years, what we know now based on numerous studies on biomarkers is that e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than tobacco products, in fact Public Health England have found e-cigarettes to be 95% less harmful than smoking.

When asked if public health would benefit if every American smoker were to switch to an e-cigarette, David Abrams stated;

‘I think there is no question public health would benefit dramatically if everybody switched completely to e-cigarettes and we made cigarettes obsolete… Our studies suggest that if 10% of current smokers switched completely every year for the next 10 years… we’d save 6-7 million lives who otherwise would die from cigarette smoking, and 87 million quality life years would be gained.’ - David Abrams, New York University Professor 

Speaking about the recent reports of vaping related respiratory issues, Dr Abrams reiterates that these issues have so far been reported as being a result of people using marijuana oils purchased on the black market, and that there has yet to be a report directly linked to e-cigarettes being used in the manner in which they were intended, with e-liquids legitimately purchased from a reputably retailer.

He also points out that e-cigarettes have been available for over 10 years, and the fact that these reports are coming after so many years of e-cigarettes being available and in such quick succession makes it unlikely that the respiratory problems are a direct result of e-cigarettes being used as intended and with standard nicotine e-liquids.

He emphasises that he considers e-cigarettes to be an important tool in the fight against tobacco products, and his fears that these reports could jeopardise the benefits that e-cigarettes could offer, ending the interview with the powerful statement;

‘If we lose this opportunity, I think we would have blown the single biggest public health opportunity we’ve had in 120 years to get rid of cigarettes and replace them with a much safer form of nicotine.’ - David Abrams, New York University Professor