(HealthDay News) — Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are associated with more harm than benefit on a population level, according to a study published online in PLOS ONE.

Samir Soneji, PhD, from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy in Lebanon, NH, and colleagues quantified the benefits and harms associated with e-cigarette use at the population level. The expected years of life gained or lost from the impact of e-cigarette use on smoking cessation was calculated among current smokers, and transition to long-term cigarette smoking among never smokers was assessed for the 2014 US population cohort.

The researchers estimated that use of e-cigarettes in 2014 resulted in 2070 additional current cigarette-smoking adults aged 25 to 69 years quitting smoking in 2015 (95% confidence interval, −42,900 to 46,200) and remaining continually abstinent for at least 7 years. The model also estimated that use of e-cigarettes in 2014 would lead to an estimated 168,000 additional never-cigarette-smoking adolescents and young adults aged 12 to 29 years becoming daily smokers at ages 35 to 39 years (95% confidence interval, 114,000 to 229,000). Assuming a 95% relative harm reduction of e-cigarette use versus cigarette smoking, the model estimated that e-cigarette use in 2014 would lead to 1,510,000 years of life lost (95% confidence interval, 920,000 to 2,160,000). The model estimated a greater number of years lost as the relative harm reduction decreased.

“Effective national, state, and local efforts are needed to reduce e-cigarette use among youth and young adults if e-cigarettes are to confer a net population-level benefit in the future,” the authors write.

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Soneji SS, Sung HY, Primack BA, Pierce JP, Sargent JD. Quantifying population-level health benefits and harms of e-cigarette use in the United States. PLOS One. [Published March 14, 2018] doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0193328