Background: Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) represent an emerging public health issue. These devices deliver nicotine along with other constituents, including flavorants, via an inhalable aerosol. Their uptake is rapidly increasing in both adults and youths, primarily among current smokers. Public debate is increasing on how these devices should be regulated and used, yet only limited peer-reviewed research exists. To develop a informed policy for e-cigarettes, their effects on human behavior, physiology, and health need to be understood.
Purpose: This paper describes proceedings from a National Institutes of Health-sponsored workshop, which was held in November 2013, to identify research needs related to the effects of e-cigarettes. Discussion topics included e-cigarette risks and abuse potential; the potential role for e-cigarettes in harm reduction and smoking cessation; unintended consequences of e-cigarette use, such as becoming a gateway to conventional cigarettes; and dual use of both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes.
Results and conclusions: The research needs identified by the workshop participants included the following: standards to measure the contents and emissions of e-cigarettes; biomarkers of exposure; physiological effects of e-cigarettes on tissues and organ systems, including pulmonary and cardiovascular; information on e-cigarette users, how the devices are used, and identification of the best tools to assess these measures; factors that drive use and influence patterns of use; and appropriate methods for evaluating a potential role for e-cigarettes in smoking or nicotine cessation. To understand fully the challenges and the opportunities that e-cigarettes represent, expertise will be needed in basic, behavioral, translational, and clinical sciences.
Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco 2014. This work is written by (a) US Government employee(s) and is in the public domain in the US.