What to make of the conflicting reports? According to Michael Siegel, professor of community health sciences at the BU School of Public Health, the negative effects of electronic cigarettes have been wildly overblown, clouding the important benefits of e-cigarettes as quit-smoking devices.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that look like cigarettes but do not burn tobacco. Rather, they deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals in the form of a vapor. Because of the limited research into e-cigarette use, their risks and benefits remain uncertain and subject to widespread debate.
With only about 6 percent of cigarette smokers successful in quitting the habit, and the tobacco industry free to continue its marketing despite known health effects, Siegel worries that the government’s focus on the potential harms from e-cigarettes will detract from their quit-smoking benefits.