Vascular surgeon Prof. Martin Storck from the Karlsruhe Clinic, together with a group of experts from the fields of pulmonary medicine, cancer prevention and addiction medicine, calls for tobacco heaters and e-cigarettes to be recognized and recommended as a way of quitting smoking.
Prof. Storck, this requirement is controversial among medical professionals. How do you explain your position?
As a vascular physician, it is particularly important to me that smokers avoid the main pollutants from tobacco combustion. A number of these toxins are not present in e-cigarettes at all or only in greatly reduced form. We’re talking about a reduction of 95 to 99 percent. The same applies to tobacco heaters. These data are considered to be scientifically proven and cannot be argued away. Therefore, switching to e-cigarettes or tobacco heaters makes sense for smokers to minimize damage. For me, every tobacco cigarette that is no longer smoked is a step in the right direction.
“Switching to e-cigarettes reduces the health risks of smokers”
Isn’t that just shifting the addiction?
Complete cessation of smoking is definitely the healthiest option. But even switching to e-cigarettes reduces the health damage of smokers, as a British study has shown. In addition, in a review article, the e-cigarette was found to be more successful as a means of smoking cessation than nicotine replacement products such as chewing gum or patches.
So you live comparatively healthier with e-cigarettes?
The harmful substances contained in e-cigarettes such as glycerin, propylene glycol and metals are by no means healthy. Therefore, I advise non-smokers against it. But e-cigarettes do not contain the pollutants of tobacco smoke at all or significantly reduced. Mathematical model calculations by health authorities show the possible gain in years of life and the avoidance of deaths by switching to e-cigarettes or tobacco heaters.
How critical is the passive intake of vapor from e-cigarettes and tobacco heaters?
For tobacco heaters, Japanese authorities determined a 1000 times lower risk of cancer from passive exposure compared to cigarettes.
Where do you think there is a need for action?
I would wish that in Germany there would not only be warnings about the dangers of smoking, but also more help in giving up smoking through factual information about the possibilities of damage limitation, including e-cigarettes.