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E-cigarettes: EU-based regulations urgently needed!

Comment by Pedro Marques-Vidal, EACPR Prevention, Epidemiology and Population Science Section

Determinants and prevalence of e-cigarette use throughout the European Union: a secondary analysis of 26 566 youth and adults from 27 Countries.
Vardavas CI et al.
Tob Control. Published online 16 June 2014. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2013-051394


Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have become a fashionable alternative to “common” cigarette smoking, but little information existed regarding their use and knowledge in Europe.

In the largest ever European study regarding knowledge and use of e-cigarette, Vardavas and colleagues reported that over two thirds of Europeans have heard of e-cigarettes, but a lower percentage knows what they are, and a sizable fraction (between 14 and 47% depending on country) does not know if they are harmful. The authors estimated that over 23 million Europeans have used or experimented e-cigarettes. Subjects aged less than 40, smokers who attempted to quit and heavy smokers were most likely to use or experiment e-cigarettes.

These findings stress the need to evaluate the health impact of e-cigarettes: although heavy smokers might use e-cigarettes to reduce or quit smoking, e-cigarettes can also be a novel and fashionable method of entering tobacco addiction. Thus, EU-based regulations are urgently needed.