E-cigarettes: damage control or a “gateway” to new smokers? Date: January 22, 2018 Source: Texas A & M University Summary: Smoking has been a public health problem for decades, with numerous efforts to reduce tobacco sales, cigarette taxes, and sometimes persistent campaigns to get people to quit smoking. In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Amy Fairchild, PhD, associate director of academic affairs and professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Texas A&M School of Public Health – along with Ju Sung Lee, a graduate student at Texas A&M School of Public Health; Dr. Ronald Bayer, PhD, Columbia University; and Dr. James Curran, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Columbia University. Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, emphasize the importance of recognizing not only a continuum of risk with nicotine-containing products, but also a continuum of risk-reduction strategies. In their study, Fairchild and his colleagues note that risk-reduction proposals fall between tactics that allow e-cigarettes to be sold and used, but severely limit their availability, and strategies that facilitate smokers’ access to e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco use. Despite the growing consensus that e-cigarettes are at the bottom of the risk continuum, there is intense debate about what role they should play in harm reduction efforts. Regardless of the restrictions imposed by policymakers on e-cigarettes, ongoing health and safety monitoring is necessary to reduce risk and protect consumers. Smoking has been a public health problem for decades, and there have been many efforts to reduce tobacco sales, tax cigarettes, and sometimes persistent campaigns to get people to stop smoking. One of the keys to taxing e-cigarettes is to find taxes high enough to make them unaffordable to young people but low enough to make them cheaper for smokers than fuel products. “E-cigarettes: damage control or aport’ for new smokers? ScienceDaily.” 11, 2017 Young people who use e-cigarettes are more than four times more likely to start smoking within 18 months than their peers who do not use e-cigarettes, according to a new study. However, while the tobacco control community has long been resigned to the harm caused by tobacco when it is reduced rather than eliminated, it is fiercely contested. Ms. Fairchild and her colleagues emphasize that many of these policies suffer from uncertainty, which can make it difficult to choose the right course of action; but given the nature of the health risks associated with tobacco, policymakers must also operate under uncertainty. “This means not only that a risk-reduction measure should be reversed if it hurts more people than it helps, but also that the very fact that a tactic is by definition labeledrisk reduction’ effectively contributes to risk reduction. Among the most restrictive measures are limiting access only to current smokers and restricting the sale of e-cigarettes in pharmacies.