Published on March 21st, 2017 | by Jimmy Hafrey
Three public health advocates are calling for a new perspective on vaping.
The Hill is reporting that three advocates have come together to change the view on vaping from a device that is just as dangerous as smoking, which has been debunked several times, to a potentially life-saving disease prevention device. The authors of the opinion include Dr. Robert Sklaroff, M.D., a medical oncologist; Bill Godshall, M.P.H., who works as the director of Smokefree Pennsylvania; and Stephen F. Gambescia, Ph.D., who is a professor at Drexel University. These men have worked in varying capacities as tobacco control advocates at the community, state, and national levels for a combined total of 35 years.
The group took issue with the new administration’s pledge to cut regulations across the board, arguing that no such action has been taken on the Food and Drug Administration’s damaging regulations against vaping. The regulations, readers will remember, were allegedly put into place to protect the nation’s children from choosing to vape as well as protect all young people from the influence and reach of Big Tobacco.
Unfortunately, this is just one of many failed attempts by health advocates, doctors, and researchers to find a way to put a stop to the smoking epidemic in the country. This has include innovations for nicotine patches and gums at the market level, and on the legislative level, includes tax hikes and indoor smoking bans. All of these efforts have had minimal effect on the amount of people who smoke.
But vaping can have a greater effect on smoking cessation.
As we have reported many times in the past, vaping is the act of inhaling a vapor that may or may not contain nicotine. The vape liquid, which can contain a variety of levels of nicotine or none at all, is heated with the use of a battery and then taken into the user’s mouth. It is also 95 percent less dangerous than smoking, which burns tobacco leaves, tar, and other toxins, which is then released into the users mouth and lungs.
The fact that vaping imitates the same behaviors as smoking means that it is a perfect way for users to move from smoking to vaping with little to no withdrawal symptoms during the process. Because smoking is known to be addictive both on the physical and psychological levels, many researchers and public health advocates believe that vape products could be the answer to finally having a cessation method that has a high success rate.
Studies have also shown that vaping is more effective than other smoking cessation methods because the behavior yields sustained remissions, regardless if the user is using nicotine or not in their liquids.
It is important to note that since 2009, when vaping was introduced into the American market, there has been a 25 percent decrease in the amount of adults who smoke. Since 2011, the amount of youth smoking in the country decreased by an astounding 50 percent. However, there are still 27.6 million adult smokers who have not found a way to quit smoking.
Equally important to the discussion, as the group points out, is that there has been no evidence provided by the medical or scientific community that other tobacco use, such as cigars, hookah, smokeless tobacco, and pipes, cause the same level of mortality or contribute to high healthcare costs such as smoking traditional cigarettes. In fact, the evidence points to the opposite: these “other” products, which do include vaping, show trace levels of disability and morbidity and don’t even compare to the levels to which tobacco affects these numbers.
The annual National Health Information Survey that was released in 2015 concluded that roughly 2.5 million adult vapers were former smokers who had successfully kicked the habit, while another five million vapers were still smoking, but moving towards quitting.
Vaping has also had another effect that could not have been foreseen by the federal government or advocates on both sides of the issue: vaping has begun to serve as a disease prevention device that is safer that smoking; the most common cause of injury is due to battery fires, which have been shown to be a product of ignorance or neglect on the part of the user.
Vaping is also presenting itself as a viable strategy with which to discourage smoking altogether. Young adults and older users are more likely to try vaping first instead of smoking. In fact, even the Surgeon General’s report on vaping comes to this conclusion, stating that: “among adults, e-cigarettes are considered a far less harmful alternative because, unlike traditional cigarettes, they do not rely on combustion, which leads to inhalation of deadly carcinogenic particles, and 480,000 deaths each year.”
So it comes as a surprise to most in the public health field that the FDA and the government would both take stances against vaping. The government has even cited a recent experiment in which animals were exposed to nicotine and suffered brain alterations as a result. Studies used by both the agency and the government have also suggested that the flavoring used in vape products could prove harmful.
There is no evidence that either claim is correct at this time. The Surgeon General’s office also failed to provide evidence that vape products serve as a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes; this is because the statement is false.
Vape products do one thing: provide nicotine in a safer method than traditional cigarettes. Vape products do not introduce carbon-monoxide, tar, or other toxins into a user’s system. Vape products are not addictive.
Instead, vape products offer a solution to the problem this government has been trying to solve for years: it is a safer alternative to smoking and should be touted as a disease prevention device instead of being maligned.
This publication is in agreement with the conclusion of the authors’ piece: The battle against saving people from preventable deaths caused by tobacco starts with vaping. The FDA and the Surgeon General should be working to make vape products available for all traditional smokers.