A group of leading lung health organizations is urging governments to ban or limit the use of e-cigarettes until more is known about the devices' health effects.
The Forum of International Respiratory Societies, which includes more than 70,000 members worldwide, said in a position statement, "Since electronic cigarettes generate less tar and carcinogens than combustible cigarettes, using electronic cigarettes may reduce disease caused by those components. However, the health risks of electronic cigarettes have not been adequately studied. Studies looking at whether electronic cigarettes can aid smoking cessation have had inconsistent results."
The statement warned about the addictive power of nicotine, and noted e-cigarette emissions may pose a health risk to nonusers, HealthDay reports.
If governments do allow the use of e-cigarettes, they should regulate the devices as medicines or tobacco products, according to the statement.
Research on e-cigarettes should be supported by sources other than tobacco companies and e-cigarette manufacturers, the lung organization stated.
In a news release, Dean Schraufnagel, MD, lead author of the statement, said, "The gravity of tobacco use on global health and the historical behavior of the tobacco industry that has included deceit about the health effects of tobacco, intentional marketing to children, and manipulating nicotine levels in cigarettes to maintain addiction should prompt us to proceed cautiously. Nicotine is central to lifelong addiction, and these are nicotine delivery devices."