29 July 2020
Tobacco use is the single largest preventable risk factor for premature death of non-communicable diseases and the second leading cause of cardiovascular disease. In response to the harmful effects of tobacco smoking, the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) has emerged and gained significant popularity over the past 15 years. E-cigarettes are promoted as safe alternatives for traditional tobacco smoking and are often suggested as a way to reduce or quit smoking. However, evidence suggests they are not harmless.
The rapid evolution of the e-cigarette market has outpaced the legislator’s regulatory capacity, leading to mixed regulations. The increasing use of e-cigarettes in adolescents and young individuals is of concern. While the long-term direct cardiovascular effects of e-cigarettes remain largely unknown, the existing evidence suggests that the e-cigarette should not be regarded as a cardiovascular safe product. The contribution of e-cigarette use to reducing conventional cigarette use and smoking cessation is complex, and the impact of e-cigarette use on long-term cessation lacks sufficient evidence.
This position paper describes the evidence regarding the prevalence of e-cigarette smoking, uptake of e-cigarettes in the young, related legislations, cardiovascular effects of e-cigarettes and the impact of e-cigarettes on smoking cessation. Knowledge gaps in the field are also highlighted. The recommendations from the population science and public health section of the European Association of Preventive Cardiology are presented.