Linda Bauld, President of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Europe, recently published an article that takes aim at the misinformation surrounding vaping
As vaping continues to become more common, the debate over whether or not e-cigarettes are dangerous rages on, at least in the media. According to a leading mind in the field of nicotine and tobacco control, Dr. Linda Bauld, the evidence clearly shows that vaping dramatically reduces harm exposure. Unfortunately, media outlets are far more concerned with selling the potential risks over acknowledging their apparent benefits.
Dr. Bauld believes that the negative reputation perpetuated by the media is ultimately costing lives since it reinforces the false belief that vaping and smoking are similar in risk. After all, if you believe that smoking is just as dangerous as vaping, why ever attempt a switch? Luckily, she also thinks that 2017 consistently established that vaping is genuinely much safer than tobacco. She hopes that this movement will carry into 2018 and finally end the stigma that goes along with vaping.
Vaping In 2017
According to Linda Bauld, 2017 was the most important year yet in the fight for vaping rights. For starters, we finally had some evidence of the long-term effects of vaping on former smokers. The study, which was published by the American College of Physicians, and funded by Cancer Research UK, found that there was a massive reduction in the presence of carcinogens and other toxins after the study’s minimum cessation period of 16 months. But they also found that these results were contingent on whether or not participants had completely stopped smoking. Bolstering these claims was another study from last year that compared the toxins in vapor and smoke. The researchers from Ohio State’s Medical Center found that the cancer risk of vaping is about 99% less than that of smoking.
Following this pattern of positive results, both the Royal College of General Practitioners and the British Medical Association released new policies that claim vaping is a legitimate way for smokers to increase their chances of quitting. To round out the year Public Health England’s annual Stoptober campaign formally endorsed vaping as a smoking cessation tool for the first time. Scotland even went as far as to have their Chief Medical Officer support a statement from Health Scotland that made it crystal clear vaping is much safer than smoking.
Changing Of The Tides
All of this research has led to some countries that are usually very skeptical of vaping to reconsider their stance. New Zealand was the most significant turnaround, with 2017 seeing them go from extremely strict, to a new policy that is much more similar to those in place in the vaping friendly UK. Their government even issued a new official position on vaping, saying “e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco.” Canada is another country that is changing their mind about vaping in light of the growing evidence. They’re currently in the process of legalizing e-cigarettes for the first time.
One of the primary reasons cited for the hesitance to support vaping as a smoking cessation tool is the belief that acceptance of e-cigarettes will normalize them enough to reverse the declining smoking rates. But these worries have now been shown to be mostly imaginary. 2017 gave us the first large-scale evidence proving that the overwhelming majority of teens who vape had previously been smokers. The study of over 60,000 teenagers found that less than 1% of everyday vapers had never smoked before picking up the habit. Improving these claims is the continuing steady decline in smoking rates in places like the UK and US where vaping is extremely common.
Linda Bauld is completely right, 2017 was a fantastic year for vaping rights. But what’s more important is that smokers understand that vaping is genuinely a much safer alternative. For a long time now the biggest problem facing vaping was the fact that so many people believe vaping to be just as, if not more, dangerous than smoking. In fact, a poll by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found that only a dismal 13% of the general public believe vaping to be much safer than smoking; Compared with 26% that think they have a similar level of risk.
There’s been positive information available for years, but the majority of headlines by large news outlets have focused solely on a potential risk. That’s why it’s no wonder so many people think that vaping is dangerous. But 2017 was such an important year for vaping because so many well-known institutions and government agencies came out in support of vaping for the first time. It’s these types of sources backing e-cigarettes that will lead to an increased acceptance among the general public, which will inevitably lead to more people quitting cigarettes for good.
Do you agree with Linda Bauld that 2017 was a fantastic year for vapers everywhere? What is the most important thing that needs to happen for vaping to gain further acceptance? What would make 2018 an even better year for vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments.