E-Cigarette Switch Strategy Linked to Fewer Premature Deaths

Under pessimistic model, 1.6 million premature deaths prevented, 20.8 million fewer life-years lost
Under pessimistic model, 1.6 million premature deaths prevented, 20.8 million fewer life-years lost

(HealthDay News) — Replacement of cigarettes with electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is projected to result in fewer premature deaths, even under a pessimistic scenario, according to a study published online Oct. 2 in Tobacco Control.

David T. Levy, Ph.D., from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and colleagues tested optimistic and pessimistic e-cigarette substitution models against a status quo scenario to project smoking rates and health outcomes if cigarette smoking were largely replaced by e-cigarette use ("vaping") over a 10-year period. Projected mortality outcomes by age and sex were compared from 2016 to 2100 to assess the impact on public health.

The researchers found that in the optimistic scenario, replacement of cigarettes with e-cigarettes over a 10-year period was projected to yield 6.6 million fewer premature deaths, with 86.7 million fewer life-years lost, compared with the status quo. In contrast, 1.6 million premature deaths would be prevented, with 20.8 million fewer life-years lost, under the pessimistic scenario. Younger cohorts experienced the largest gains, with a 0.5 gain in average life expectancy projected for the 15-year-old cohort in 2016.

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"The tobacco control community has been divided regarding the role of e-cigarettes in tobacco control," the authors write. "Our projections show that a strategy of replacing cigarette smoking with vaping would yield substantial life-year gains, even under pessimistic assumptions regarding cessation, initiation, and relative harm."

One author disclosed ties to Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, which manufacture smoking cessation medications.

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