The move from DANA comes after the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists came out earlier this year supporting e-cigarettes as “minimizing the harms associated with smoking tobacco”
In July of this year the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists published a press release that supported e-cigarettes, but with warned of their “cautious” approach. Citing the much higher rate of smoking in mental health patients, the RANZCP says that products which effectively reduce the harm of nicotine would be important in closing the life expectancy gap for individuals with mental illness. Although they acknowledge the benefits of vaping they were still hesitant to fully endorse e-cigarettes, but just this month the Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia did just that by coming out in full support of vaping.
What Is DANA?
The Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia, or DANA, is an organization of nurses and midwives who specialize in Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug (ATOD) problems. (Australasia is a term used to describe Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and neighboring islands in the Pacific Ocean). DANA has been working to improve the quality of nursing care, including non-professionals interested in ATOD awareness and prevention, for almost 20 years. For the last 15 years they’ve held an annual conference to discuss the latest news and research concerning Drugs and Alcohol. They are sure to include advocacy and education of issues related to drug addiction. Earlier this month President of DANA, Darren Smyth, released a position statement for the organization called, Electronic Cigarettes for Tobacco Harm Reduction.
DANA Position Statement
In an overview of their position, they state that individuals suffering with drug addiction are more likely to be smokers, and they have more trouble quitting than other smokers. According to DANA, drug addicted smokers are much more likely to die from a tobacco related disease than something related to their primary drug problem. Given a tough choice, medical professionals have long supported substitution of hard drugs with smoking, mostly because of its documented ability to help. But over the last 10 years vaping has developed into the viable third option that doctors long hoped for. It has even begun to change the minds of some major players in the debate, such as FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
The three main policies laid out in the release from DANA are, “The use of e-cigarettes as a harm replacement tool or cessation aid for smokers who cannot quit with approved therapies; Making low concentrations of nicotine legally available for vaping for tobacco harm reduction, with appropriate regulations to minimize risk and uptake by young people; Low or no taxation on vaping products to maintain a price advantage to encourage smokers to switch.” Each of these suggestions is right in line with DANA’s promise to only promote practices that use “the best available evidence”. As many health organizations have found, not only are e-cigarettes 95% safer than combustible cigarettes, but they also are proven to help over half of daily vapers fully quit smoking. It’s a great sign to see reputable health organizations go on the record that increasing taxes on vaping will only decrease its ability to entice smokers to switch. Of all the issues facing vaping, this has been one getting the least amount of press. But that does not mean there is not a huge amount at stake; Many vapers were originally convinced of switching due to the huge savings. DANA made sure to be clear that the research surrounding vaping is nowhere near done, promising to keep studying the effects into the future.
With a nursing organization that specializes in addiction ready to support vaping, it should become easier for policy makers with only a fringe connection to the science of vaping and addiction to accept it as a valid smoking cessation tool. Mounting evidence points to the relative safety and success of vaping for smoking cessation purposes. As mentioned above, the well known 2015 Royal College of Physicians report found vaping was at least 95% safer than cigarettes. These statistics are nothing to be scoffed at. They represent the potential for millions of saved lives. DANA taking a stance like this will only improve the validity of pro-vaping rhetoric in the face of an unjustifiably negative public.
What do you think about DANA’s new stance on vaping? Do you think it is a strong enough endorsement? How important is it for health organizations, especially ones that deal with tobacco issues, to get on board with vaping for smoking cessation? Let us know what you think in the comments.