ASCO applauds the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for exercising its congressionally mandated authority to regulate cigars, hookah tobacco, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). This is a crucial step in further regulating deadly tobacco products and ascertaining the true risks and potential health benefits of using ENDS.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of cancer in the world and worsens the prognosis of people already diagnosed with many types of cancer. There is insufficient data on the health consequences of ENDS use and their value as tobacco cessation aids. E-cigarettes may reduce smoking rates and other adverse health risks, but we will not know for sure until these products are researched and regulated.
Most importantly, we are concerned that e-cigarettes may encourage nonsmokers, particularly children, to start smoking and develop a nicotine addiction. FDA regulation will minimize the potential negative consequences of e-cigarettes and other ENDS without undermining their potential to reduce harm as a smoking cessation tool.
We commend the FDA for taking this important step and will be happy to provide appropriate guidance and feedback as the agency works to understand the true public health benefits and risks of these products. In the meantime, oncologists should encourage patients to use FDA-approved cessation medications, refer them for smoking cessation counseling, and provide education about the potential risks and lack of known benefits of long-term e-cigarette use.