Director of FDA Center for Tobacco Products supports full transition of adult smokers to e-cigarettes

In an article published in the scientific journal Addiction, Dr. Brian King, director of the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, discusses the opportunities and considerations for educating adult smokers about the relative risks of tobacco products. Dr. Brian King co-authored the article with Dr. Benjamin Toll, director of the Tobacco Treatment Program and co-director of the Lung Cancer Screening Program at the Medical University of South Carolina.


The article highlights the findings of a recent survey of misconceptions about the harms of tobacco products, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes. The survey found that only about 20 percent of adults who smoke think e-cigarettes contain fewer harmful chemicals than cigarettes. In fact, while no tobacco product is completely safe, the available scientific evidence shows that there are varying levels of harm from tobacco products, with cigarettes being the most harmful.


The article states that there is a need to educate adult smokers about the relative risks of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. However, these efforts should be accompanied by efforts to prevent youth use of tobacco products; encourage front-line use of FDA-approved smoking cessation therapies; and, for adults who both smoke and vape, emphasize the importance of a full transition to vaping. Since no tobacco product is safe, the ultimate goal should be to quit all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.


The article also emphasizes that any educational effort about the relative risks of tobacco products must be evidence-based. In particular, it is important to assess the benefits of tobacco products to adult smokers and the risks to non-target populations such as adolescents. Currently, FDA is in the early stages of a research effort to evaluate information about the continuum of risk from tobacco products among adult smokers.

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