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Electronic cigarettes: a clinical perspective

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Many people are switching to e-cigarettes Many people are switching to e-cigarettes over traditional tobacco products, but these still carry risks

In recent years electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) have been widely adopted by ex-smokers and current smokers as a safer way of consuming nicotine. Public Health England is a strong advocate of these devices, stating ‘smoking remains the leading preventable cause of illness and premature death and is one of the largest causes of health inequalities. It is argued that alternative nicotine delivery systems, such as e-cigarettes, could play a major role in improving public health’.1

The technology behind e-cigarettes has developed a great deal since their invention in 2003. Then they were cigarette look-alikes that utilised an electric element to vaporize a nicotine containing liquid of propylene glycol. Now the shape and delivery of these products varies widely, and this variation means that in some quarters the term e-cigarettes is no longer appropriate, and there are discussions going on in the UK and internationally to develop a more appropriate common terminology.1

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