The new policy on vaping, which was adopted this month, wants to get smokers off any nicotine products but acknowledges a switch to vaping good step in the right direction
One of the most common things said about e-cigarettes by vapers is that they were vital in their ability to finally quit smoking. While this is nothing new from vapers, more and more public health organizations are beginning to come around to vaping after years of skepticism. One of these organizations is the American Cancer Society, which has until now held the stance that vaping should be avoided as much as possible, even as a smoking cessation aid. But now they’ve decided to endorse vaping for smokers who haven’t had any success with traditional smoking cessation therapies.
This endorsement fell short of full support, with the ACS cautioning among other things, that only a complete switch to vaping will have any impact on the risk. They also reasserted that complete cessation from any nicotine products is the ideal situation, but for the first time, they were willing to acknowledge that e-cigarettes could play a vital role reducing the impact of smoking. In spite of their continued caution, many in the vaping community are still very optimistic that this could signal much-needed momentum building in the fight for vaping rights.
Progress For Vapers
The American Cancer Society updated their Position Statement on Electronic Cigarettes to reflect the changing landscape of evidence. Their summary of this position starts by saying “Based on currently available evidence, using current generation e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoking cigarettes.” This is coming a long way from years past in which their stance more closely reflected anti-vaping groups than health agencies aimed at helping smokers quit. Regardless of how we got here though, the result is a step in the right direction for vaping, which has traditionally been maligned by public health organizations more than helped.
Luckily, large parts of the healthcare research community have been quicker to acknowledge the power of vaping as a smoking cessation tool. Back in 2015 Public Health England released a now-famous report that concluded that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. This was the first of many large-scale vaping studies to hammer home the point that making a switch from smoking to vaping is an excellent thing to do for your health. Since then, there have been many other significant studies looking into essential parts of this question. A 2016 study published in Nicotine and Tobacco Research found that the societal shift toward vaping has lead to a decrease in smoking-related death rates. Then just last year, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concluded that e-cigarettes expose users to a dramatically lower amount of carcinogenic or otherwise harmful substances. But all of this positive research has not silenced all of the anti-vaping critics.
The most common fear you’ll hear regarding the long-term efficacy of vaping involves their impact on the youth. Critics will say that societal acceptance of vaping will only lead to more teens picking up the habit. Which they then say will eventually turn them into full-blown smokers. But several studies looking to find these patterns have been fruitless.
In fact, these studies have tended to conclude that the overwhelming majority of teenage vapers had already been smokers, meaning vaporizers fill the same role they do for adult smokers, to help keep them away from cigarettes. What’s more, is vaping has never been shown to lead to smoking, which is one of the most significant assumptions made by critics. But even in the face of mounting evidence, this concern, and others like it continue to surface time and time again.
It should be apparent by now to anyone paying attention that vaping is clearly less dangerous than smoking. Almost all of the reputable evidence points to a dramatic reduction of harm when making a switch full time to vaping, both in the short and long term. But regardless, there are still many critics who aren’t ready to let go of the idea that vaping is bad for you. Unfortunately, they also seem to be winning the battle. A poll by Action on Smoking and Health found that only 13% of people believe that vaping is much safer than smoking, while twice as many people thought vaping was just as, if not more dangerous.
But moments like this, when major influential players in the health community like the American Cancer Society finally acknowledge the value of e-cigarettes, are incredibly encouraging. With any luck, this will only be a signal of what’s to come. If more public health agencies are willing to accept that vaping is a friend and not a foe, we may have a new secret weapon to cripple smoking once and for all.
Is it important that public health agencies come out in support of vaping? What do you think could lead to a wider acceptance? Why do you think it’s so hard to change the public perception of vaping? Let us know in the comments.