Tobacco is the problem, not e-cigarettes

Tobacco users keep doctors, nurses and undertakers busy. Tobacco use is today's major preventable cause of death. Cigarette smoking is extremely toxic to the human body and costly to society. About half of smokers die prematurely from disease caused by smoking.

Cigarette smoking delivers nicotine into the lungs and then, rapidly, to the brain, causing pleasure and relieving anxiety. Nicotine is highly addictive, but not poisonous or toxic; medicines containing nicotine can safely help people quit smoking. It is the other stuff in tobacco that causes the tissue destruction and death.

E-cigarettes look like cigarettes, but they don't contain tobacco and they don't burn — these differences are critical.

E-cigarettes do not deliver the poisons present in tobacco that cause emphysema, cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Some contain nicotine, and people may be able to use them to help themselves quit smoking in the same way they use nicotine patches or gum.

It is true that e-cigarettes have not been thoroughly researched and are not currently regulated. We don’t know what their long-term effects could be, or exactly what manufacturers put in their e-cigarettes. We don't know if they are completely safe. But we know a lot about tobacco, and e-cigarettes are probably much less dangerous than tobacco.

The greatest danger of e-cigarettes is that they mimic tobacco-smoking behavior. People, especially young people, might develop habits or associations that lead them to use tobacco. On the other hand, if people use e-cigarettes instead of tobacco, they will likely live longer and healthier lives.

Tobacco use is deadly. If you use tobacco, please quit or get help to quit. Call 800-QUITNOW or ask your doctor for help.

If you must choose between tobacco and e-cigarettes, choose e-cigarettes. If you can avoid them both, please do.

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