American Cancer Society Says Vaping “Less Harmful Than Smoking”
The ACS updated their policy on vaping to reflect the changing landscape of evidence and now support e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool
Ask most any vaper, and they will likely tell you that they wouldn’t have been able to stop smoking without the help of e-cigarettes. This has been the case ever since vaporizers first exploded onto the big scene in the late 2000s. But now the mounting evidence has even begun to convert public health agencies who initially rebuked vaporizers as a fad or dangerous. This is precisely the case with the American Cancer Society, who just this week decided to update their policy on vaping as a smoking cessation aid. They had long been in the same camp as the FDA and CDC, choosing to equate vaping with smoking, but in light of growing evidence have been one of the first influential health organizations to pull a 180 on their e-cigarette stance.
While they wouldn’t go as far as to say that vaping is harmless, they do believe that smokers who have entirely switched to vaping are at a much lower risk than those who keep smoking, or even dual use. They still think that ultimately it would be best if people didn’t do either, but they plainly acknowledge that if the choice is between smoking and vaping, the right choice is clear. They also gave credence to claims that vaping is a valuable smoking cessation tool in its own right, providing more reason for vapers to be optimistic.
The Position Statement on Electronic Cigarettes was created to help guide the public in regards to vaporizers, but up until recently it only had negative things to say. Now the document starts on a decidedly brighter tone, saying “based on currently available evidence, using current generation e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoking cigarettes.” Other health organizations can take a lesson from the ACS regarding how to expertly handle a revision of policy. They didn’t let their pride get in the way, and the result is a significant step toward the eventual goal of total vaping acceptance.
But it didn’t occur for no reason. It could be seen as the culmination of several years of growing research detailing the benefits of vaping. One of the first major studies on vaping done by a federal government was published back in 2015 by Public Health England. The researchers concluded vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, which has since been well traveled around the community. After that, more research started to gain notoriety by looking into the real benefits of vaping. In 2016, researchers attributed a decline in smoking-related deaths to increased awareness of vaping. Then more studies last year found vaping contains a dramatically lower amount harmful substances than smoking. Unfortunately, none of this hasn’t stopped critics from voicing their concerns.
Whenever the topic of the long-term viability of vaping comes up, the same couple concerns always rear their head. The most common of all of these is the idea that vaping will eventually lead to a decline or even reversal of the dropping smoking rates. The argument goes that if society accepts vaping as a less harmful alternative, kids will see them as harmless and pick them up. This is already false, as research shows the overwhelming majority of teens who vape were smokers first. There has never been any substantial evidence to indicate that accepting vaping as a smoking cessation tool will telegraph to kids that they should start using them.
But the critics take this concern one step further and argue that these teens who theoretically pick up vaping will then inevitably turn to smoking regular cigarettes. This is even more absurd, as it assumes vaping in any way leads to smoking. This has never been shown to be the case. The only vapers shown to end up smoking had already been smokers in the past. It’s clear how silly this argument is when you realize that a common reason given for why kids would pick up vaping is the flavors. Even the anti-vapers know that no non-smoker who’s gotten used to a candy flavored e-liquid would ever willingly switch to burning tobacco flavored cigarettes. Somehow though, these worries never seem to die.
At this point, to not understand just how much safer vaping is than smoking, you’d simply have to be not paying attention. Most of all the reputable evidence that is published points to the simple fact that while not harmless, vaping should undoubtedly be preferred over smoking. But thanks to the vocal critics who spout misleading narratives, a majority of people believe vaping is just as, if not more harmful than tobacco.
This can be a bit disheartening, but in moments like these, we should recognize that this change of heart from the ACS represents a significant step forward for the vaping community. We can only hope that the mounting evidence and pressure from moves like this will multiply and result in much-needed momentum for the vaping rights movement. After all, if we can get vaping supported by the general public, we can likely end the threat of smoking for good.
Why do we need public health agencies to come out in support of e-cigarettes? How can we help foster acceptance with more people? What makes it so hard to change the public reputation of vaping? Let us know in the comments.