HealthDay News —Replacement of cigarettes with electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) is projected to result in fewer premature deaths, even under a pessimistic scenario, according to a study published online in Tobacco Control.

David T. Levy, PhD, from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, and colleagues tested optimistic and pessimistic e-cigarette substitution models against a status quo scenario to project smoking rates and health outcomes if cigarette smoking were largely replaced by e-cigarette use (“vaping”) over a 10-year period.

Projected mortality outcomes by age and sex were compared from 2016 to 2100 to assess the impact on public health.

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The researchers found that in the optimistic scenario, replacement of cigarettes with e-cigarettes over a 10-year period was projected to yield 6.6 million fewer premature deaths, with 86.7 million fewer life-years lost, compared with the status quo. In contrast, 1.6 million premature deaths would be prevented, with 20.8 million fewer life-years lost, under the pessimistic scenario. Younger cohorts experienced the largest gains, with a 0.5 gain in average life expectancy projected for the 15-year-old cohort in 2016.

“The tobacco control community has been divided regarding the role of e-cigarettes in tobacco control,” the authors write. “Our projections show that a strategy of replacing cigarette smoking with vaping would yield substantial life-year gains, even under pessimistic assumptions regarding cessation, initiation, and relative harm.”

One author disclosed ties to Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, which manufacture smoking cessation medications.

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Levy DT, Borland R, Lindblom EN, et al. Potential deaths averted in USA by replacing cigarettes with e-cigarettes [published online October 2, 2017]. BMJ. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2017-053759