Published on July 14th, 2016 | by Jimmy Hafrey
Various studies and papers have been written in the last 18 months about the benefits of vaping can have on smokers, but few experts have come forward to suggest that doctors recommend vaping to patients who smoke.
Count Professor Ann McNeill, Ph.D., as the first.
McNeill is a Professor of Tobacco Addiction in the National Addiction Centre that is located at King’s College London. She is also the current Deputy Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies, a consortium of 13 independent UK universities dedicated to the research and development of addiction cessation alternatives. As an active researcher and writer on all tobacco addiction-related subjects, McNeil has published over 250 academic articles with a focus on tobacco policy at all levels of government, harm reduction and suitable cessation methods.
In an article published in the upcoming issue of Annals of Family Medicine, McNeill recounts the harm that tobacco addiction can cause a smoker while building a case for why vaping should be considered by doctors as a safe pathway for smoking cessation. Within the article, which is backed by decades of research, she also demonstrates an understanding of why vaping should be regulated. And the end result is McNeill’s conclusion that vaping will help save lives.
Traditional smoking is no doubt dangerous — there are over 70 carcinogens and thousands of more toxins that have been identified by scientists in every single cigarette. It’s now estimated that every cigarette a person smokes costs them 11 minutes of their lives, which makes quitting the habit more single most important health improvement a smoker can make.
Vaping can be a powerful smoking cessation tool. In the UK, vaping is ten times more popular — and therefore the most used — than any other smoking cessation tool on the market. It is thought that this is because vaping provides habitual comfort for smokers, such as the physical habit of inhalation, and also offers nicotine in controllable doses. And because vaping is still relatively new to the public, it’s a novel way for smokers who have tried to quit in the past and failed to try again.
But vaping is shrouded in misinformation and confusing statistics. This is where doctors become incredibly important to their patients. Doctors are experts in the field of medicine, so they are seen by the public as credible sources of information and support. If doctors were to become more knowledgeable about vaping, their recommendation for using this smoking cessation method will help a smoker make the decision to quit.
One of the most damaging claims made against vaping, and indeed a claim most doctors could dispute immediately is the idea that nicotine is the driving force behind smoking-related deaths. It is, in fact, not the driving force — the thousands of toxins and carcinogens found in tobacco products is the cause of death. But many smokers — and anti-vaping advocates — continue to believe that nicotine is the problem.
What is needed now is for doctors to come forward, both in private practice in public, to teach the truth about nicotine — that while it is an addictive substance and should be regulated for consumption, it does not kill smokers and can be used in a safe manner for smoking cessation methods. This, along with more research on vaping and a better understanding of how it can act as a smoking cessation method, will help the public make better decisions when it comes to quitting a smoking habit.
Vape research is still ongoing, but it does not mean that it can’t be useful. Doctors need to educate themselves and their patients on the difference between vaping nicotine and smoking, the risks associated with vaping in comparison to continued smoking and the different types of smoking cessation methods aside from vaping and their rate of success. Further educating themselves on vaping science will give doctors more chances to help their patients quit smoking and improve their health.
It’s also necessary for doctors to take into account their patient’s desires and needs for smoking cessation. While some people may want to try vaping as a way to quit, a recommendation from a doctor may actually turn that desire into action. And if vaping can help lower the number of smokers, this is something that doctors need to take seriously.