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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS ) — A newly released UCSF research study shows that claims made by some electronic cigarette manufacturers—that the devices actually help people quit smoking—are unlikely.
Scientists analyzed 84 research studies on e-cigarettes—battery-operated devices that vaporize a nicotine solution. They have been sold in the U.S. since the mid-2000s and have become immensely popular. They do no emit smoke, which has been part of the attraction to many, including teenagers.
Dr. Stanton Glanz, director of UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education and a co-author of the Circulation paper, said that the use of such devices is having the opposite effect desired by its users.
“Many people are using e-cigarettes because they are hoping to quit smoking. Smokers who use e-cigarettes are actually less likely to quit smoking than smokers who aren’t using e-cigarettes,” he said.
While some manufacturers claim the devices help people stop smoking, researchers say that’s unclear because studies show that people tend to use e-cigarettes with combustible cigarettes, rather than as an alternative.
A survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that the numbers of middle and high school children, who said they tried e-cigarettes, grew from 3.3 percent in 2011 to 6.8 in 2012.
While the health consequences of those particles released from e-cigarettes are still mostly unknown, researchers point out that evidence from previous studies indicates that frequent low- or short-term exposure to similar fine particles from tobacco or air pollution contribute to systemic inflammatory processes in the body that increase the risk of heart and respiratory disease.
“All e-cigarettes deliver lower levels of toxins that conventional cigarettes do; they sill are exposing people to toxic chemicals,” Glanz said.
Worried about possible health impacts from second-hand exposure, the city of San Francisco, like some other cities across the country, has banned e-cigarettes use in public areas where tobacco smoking is also not allowed.