Virginia Tech researcher calls for a balanced approach when regulating electronic cigarettes


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  • newswise-fullscreen Virginia Tech researcher calls for a balanced approach when regulating electronic cigarettes

    Credit: Virginia Tech

    Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC addiction research expert Warren Bickel

Newswise — Banning e-cigarettes could potentially have some unexpected consequences, according to Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC addiction research expert Warren Bickel, especially if it causes more Americans to revert back to smoking conventional cigarettes.

The rapid rise in e-cigarettes’ popularity, a thriving black market for vapes containing marijuana extracts and a mysterious illness outbreak have muddied the public health message recently.

“I’m looking forward to the Food and Drug Administration to step in and enforce regulation of what goes into the product,” said Bickel. “If we are making sure that the products have safe materials in them – and not causing these acute problems then I think that vaping could be a positive outcome and allow people to transition from conventional cigarettes - which results in nearly half a million deaths every year in America - to a product that, if appropriately made, probably has fewer health consequences.”

Bickel is a Virginia Tech faculty member and a behavioral health research professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC.  He is also director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute Addiction Recovery Research Center. 

Health official have said there have been more than 1300 lung injury cases associated with vaping along with more than two dozen deaths in recent months. 

Quoting Bickel

  • “There’s no upside to smoking traditional cigarettes, whatsoever. Once again, I think this is where we are looking for proportionality. While more than two dozen people have unfortunately passed away from smoking some sort of vaping product, we have 480,000 who die from tobacco every year. I think we have to balance those concerns.” 
  • “I would encourage families and teachers and school systems to be thoughtful and take the action they think is appropriate to discourage the use of those products by adolescents.  And we have to encourage our policy makers to focus on how we get appropriately made products in the marketplace that are as safe as can be.”
  • “I’d be very nervous about the step back in addressing the smoking health problems, if we were to just say ‘that’s it, we’re done with electronic cigarettes.’ I think there is a middle ground that will allow us to protect kids and get conventional smokers off of those tobacco cigarettes that cause so much ill health.  And hopefully it results in products that have clear standards that allow people to be confident that when they pick up an electronic cigarette there’s nothing dangerous in it.” 

Read more about Warren Bickel

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