E-cigarettes have gotten a really bad rap lately.

There have been numerous stories about how dangerous they are, several types of vaping products have been banned and the U.S. surgeon general warns that besides containing nicotine, e-cigarettes also have ultrafine particles and chemicals that can be inhaled and cause serious lung disease.

Rutgers University researchers agree there are health concerns with e-cigarettes, yes, but they insist there are also potential benefits that should not be ignored.

Michelle Bover-Manderski, a professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology and also a researcher at the Rutgers Center for Tobacco Studies, said the public needs to recognize there is a tobacco harm continuum.

“Something like combustible (regular) cigarettes I would place at one end of the spectrum and then something like a vaping product would be towards the other end,” she said.

“We do have evidence that e-cigarettes are certainly not harmless, but they are ... orders of magnitude less than combustible tobacco.”

Bover-Manderki said a balanced approach is needed because we don’t want to encourage young people to start using an addictive product like e-cigarettes.

“We also don’t want to go to the point that we’ve talked other people out of it who might otherwise benefit from using e-cigarettes. Those people I’m talking about would be adults who are addicted to combustible cigarettes,” she said.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Keep e-cigarettes away from kids

She agreed it’s important to limit flavorings and have marketing restrictions in place for e-cigarettes so they don’t directly appeal to teens and young adults.

“We don’t want these to look like something that a youth would want but we also don’t want them to be misperceived as being just as harmful as regular cigarettes because that’s also not correct," she said.

Just as good as a patch?

Bover-Manderki said there have been some e-cigarette trials “that have found them to be as effective as FDA approved nicotine replacement therapies. They are a potential solution for somebody who has been trying to quit smoking unsuccessfully.”

E-cigarettes give smokers the opportunity to hold and handle a product similar to a regular tobacco cigarette, which can offer a significant advantage over a patch.

E-Cigarettes Become Increasingly Popular Amongst Smokers
Dondi Tawatao, Getty Images

Bover-Manderki is working at the Center for Tobacco Studies with Julia Chen-Sankey, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior, Society and Policy at the Rutgers School of Public Health.

They have published an invited commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open, reviewing new data on the trend of e-cigarette use among U.S. adults

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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