ATLANTA, GEORGIA – January 30, 2018

The much anticipated NASEM report on e-cigarettes supports the FDA’s bold new two-part nicotine strategy for product regulation: (1) reduce the addictiveness and appeal of deadly combustible cigarettes; and, (2) make safer alternative nicotine products available to addicted smokers. There is an urgency to help smokers since 1 in 2 of them will die from a smoking-caused disease. This outcome can be prevented. Cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products are substantially more harmful than noncombustible tobacco and nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes. The fundamental truth, that smoking – not nicotine – is responsible for the vast majority of the harm, and that smokers should have a variety of potentially less harmful nicotine-containing products if they want or need to continue using nicotine, is the keystone of FDA’s approach.

A careful reading of the Report leads to the following evidence-based conclusions:

  • E-cigarettes are significantly less dangerous than lethal tobacco smoke;
  • To date, there simply is no evidence of long-term-use damage to the heart or lungs;
  • E-cigarettes use can help smokers reduce their risk of certain lethal diseases;
  • E-cigarettes use can and has helped many smokers quit tobacco smoking completely;
  • E-cigarettes can help reduce the risk of lethal disease in smokers who either can’t or won’t quit smoking tobacco completely.

But, the Report also has lessons for public health advocates and officials outside of the FDA. We urge these professionals, within and outside government, to embrace the concept of relative risk. The science base clearly demonstrates that e-cigarettes represent less of a risk for smokers than continuing to smoke. NTRI team member, John Seffrin, Ph.D., says: “After fighting the tobacco epidemic for over 5 decades, we now have proven harm reduction methods to help us avoid a carnage in otherwise preventable deaths.”

Now is the time to act:

  • Approach regulation of tobacco and nicotine products according to their relative risk;
  • Educate smokers that nicotine delivered without smoke is a less harmful choice and that there are massive differences in risk across the products;
  • Pursue regulations that work to enable smokers to switch completely to the much less hazardous noncombustible products such as snus, and e-cigarettes.

The NAS Report and these evidence-based conclusions can help a consumer in making an informed choice about their use of nicotine products. This Report, along with FDAís comprehensive nicotine strategy, demonstrate that we know enough to tell smokers that the most important thing they can do to improve their health is to stop inhaling smoke from burning tobacco products (like cigarettes, cigars, roll-your-own) into their lungs, and if they continue to want to use nicotine, it is much better for their health to use it in a form that is not lit on fire and smoked. David Abrams, Professor of Global Public Health at New York University, said: “Smokers have been horribly misled to believe e-cigarettes are as or are more harmful than smoking. The truth can reassure those who want to switch.”

The National Tobacco Reform Initiative (NTRI) is serving as a catalyst to enhance smoking control nationwide, and to expand the dialogue on harm reduction. The NTRI Web Site provides further details on this important subject and on the Mission Statement, Priority Actions and current activities. The NTRI team is made up of 10 senior and independent national smoking control leaders who, collectively, have provided decades of service fighting the tobacco epidemic.

Further details on the NTRI, its Team of catalysts, advocates and conveners as well as the related Advisory Group of distinguished national public health leaders can be found on the Web Site


DAVID ABRAMS AT: 212-998-6797;
JOHN SEFFRIN, PH.D. AT: 678-612-5892,
OR ALLAN ERICKSON AT: 404-512-1104.