Absolute and relative risks of electronic cigarettes

Time: 10:40 - 10:55

Date: Thursday 3rd December

On request from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE), the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) reviewed the potential toxicological risks from electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). The Committee assessed the absolute risks from use of ENDS to former cigarette smokers, naïve users, and bystander, as well as the relative risks, compared to smoking conventional cigarettes, in those switching products. ENDS are not without risk, although these are substantially less than those of conventional cigarettes. However, the difference in risk will depend on the health effect in question. There is little evidence that the short to medium term use of ENDS causes major harm, but there are significant data gaps, particularly on the effects of long-term use. In addition, the use of ENDS de novo by non-users of tobacco products is likely to be associated with some adverse health effects to which the user would not otherwise have been subject. The risks to bystanders for most health effects will be low in conventional exposure scenarios, although exposure to nicotine may result in pharmacological effects in some individuals.

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