Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Physician Corrects Misstatement About Temperature of Electronic Cigarette Vapor

Last week, I discussed an inaccurate claim made by Dr. Adam Goldstein - director of the University of North Carolina's Tobacco Dependence Program - who had attacked electronic cigarettes on a television news segment by publicly claiming that they expose users to vapor that can be several thousand degrees when it hits the lungs.

In response to my post, Dr. Goldstein sent me a statement correcting this claim and apologizing for the miscommunication, which I agreed to share with readers.

Dr. Goldstein's corrective statement is as follows:

"In a recent interview about electronic cigarettes, I discussed concerns that inhalation could reach exceedingly high temperatures. I was and remain concerned about potential lung damage when and if the electronic battery overheats or explodes, a situation that has resulted in reports of serious health consequences and damage. I did not mean to imply that such high exposure is routine for users, where temperatures without battery overheating are much less. I apologize for not making this distinction.

Even with routine inhalation, published concerns about lung damage exist. Many physicians are also still concerned that electronic cigarettes have too little regulation, that there is insufficient evidence of safety and outcomes, and that they may offer a new gateway for youth or young adults especially to start using tobacco.  I look forward to more research on safety, health outcomes and effectiveness. In the meantime, I congratulate everyone who is able to successfully quit cigarette smoking, the number one preventable cause of premature death in our society." 

The Rest of the Story

I applaud Dr. Goldstein for making this correction and apology. Now I hope that the many other electronic cigarette opponents who have made false claims about these products in an effort to deter their use will also apologize and correct their misstatements. There is always room for healthy debate about public health policy issues. However, there is not room for debates based on misinformation or distortion. I hope that moving forward, tobacco control advocates and scientists will be able to engage in a discussion of this issue that is based on science, rather than ideology.

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