Study finds that even under the most pessimistic scenarios, the benefits to backing e-cigarettes far outweigh the risks they potentially present.
According to a brand new study, millions of smokers lives could be saved if vaping is supported as a cessation aid. Coming from Georgetown University, the study concluded around 6.6 million smokers could live longer lives if e-cigarettes were embraced as useful quitting aids. Currently most public health organizations choose instead to equate vaping with smoking. The researchers make it very clear that even though there are possible risks to e-cigarettes, the smoking cessation purposes still have a substantial positive effect on the life of users. Even their worst projections put the potential lives saved at over 1.5 million.
The lead researcher, Dr. David Levy believes that accepting e-cigarettes is likely the easiest way to speed up the decline of smoking in the United States. The Georgetown professor of oncology said everyone knows how dangerous traditional cigarettes are, but many don’t understand that vaping could “dramatically improve” smokers health and well-being. Their central argument is that people who vape are not exposed to all of the carcinogens that are ingested by burning tobacco.
Using real life data, Dr. David Levy and his team created several scenarios that represent different outcomes to the questions currently surrounding vaping. The main variables tested were exactly how much safer is vaping than smoking, the real life effect of vaping on smoking rate decline over time, and how easy is vaping to quit compared to smoking? They ran the numbers and compared the potential lives saved given different parameters.
In their most optimistic scenarios they assume that e-cigarettes are indeed 95% safer than smoking which would help decline the smoking rate to 5% all the way from 16%. This scenario would also see a majority of new smokers take up vaping instead of traditional smoking, but they would be able to quit at about the same rate as smokers. Their most pessimistic scenario still finds the smoking rate would drop as low as 10%, but more never-smokers would end up vaping. This scenario also assumes that vaping is only about 60% safer and twice as hard to quit as smoking. The purpose of their comparisons were to show that even under the most conservative of estimates, an endorsement of vaping for smoking cessation could save countless lives. After all, even under these very pessimistic parameters the researchers still found that over 1.5 million lives could be saved. Levy concludes that “it’s not the nicotine that causes nearly all the deaths. It’s all the other stuff in cigarettes that people inhale”. But much of the debate is still up in the air because e-cigarettes remain unregulated by the FDA.
One of the FDA’s main responsibilities is to regulate the drugs that are available on the market in America. Since they still don’t really regulate vaping, it’s harder for experts to argue that they should be used as a legitimate medical aid. This belief is shared by Dr. Louis Depalo, who is a professor of pulmonology at Mount Sinai in New York City. He notes how FDA-approved smoking cessation tools, such as patches and gum, have been supported ubiquitously and therefore have a positive reputation in the general public. Since e-cigarettes are not regulated or backed by the FDA, many people who would likely succeed in quitting by using them never even give it a shot. If they understand them to be just as dangerous as smoking, why would they? He does offer a bit of hope that the new FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, would begin to incorporate vaping into their smoking cessation policies. Dr. Depalo acknowledges this doesn’t mean nicotine addiction is perfectly healthy as long as it’s not tied to burning tobacco. But he firmly believes that the end will more than justify the means because of just how deadly cigarettes are. According to the researchers, the FDA sensibly regulating and backing e-cigarettes could prove to be a huge step toward eliminating smoking altogether.
What do you think about the new Georgetown study? Do you think that vaping needs to be regulated by the FDA for more people to accept its legitimacy? Do you think that we will ever see a world without traditional smoking? Let us know what you think in the comments.