Vaping Can Save Lives Of Smokers
The barrage of campaigning against vaping is hitting a wall that comes in the form of doctors, scientists, and researchers, and it’s looking good for the vaping advocate community.
Last week, The Guardian published an opinion from Professor David Nutt, a well-known drug scientist in the United Kingdom. He is a professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and was chair of the country’s advisory committee on the misuse of drugs until 2009. He is also the author of “Drugs: Without The Hot Air,” a book known in Europe to be a treatise on how drug misinformation has curtailed health improvements in the past.
Nutt is also an outspoken supporter of vaping. His opinion in The Guardian focuses on tearing down the misinformation campaign and scare tactics used by the anti-vaping community in order to discredit the vaping industry. Armed with accurate information and using a mainstream platform, Nutt has chosen to speak out on the many lies and fear-mongering tactics that vapers have been fighting against.
The opinion focuses on providing objective information, including some studies that were underwritten by tobacco companies who have an interest in the vaping community. However, Nutt chose to do what the vaping community has been calling for: providing all of the information in plain English.
By using the examples of the sugar and alcohol industries, both of which have labored against any taxes and health studies that shown how damaging both substances can be to the human body and society in general, Nutt sets the stage for discussing how vaping is truly the opposite. Vaping is an answer to a problem, not another problem itself.
While it is true that there have been some conflicts of interest in a variety of studies, as Nutt points out, it is relatively rare. Having Big Tobacco sponsor studies that prove that vaping is healthier than smoking, as the one mentioned in this AOL article from earlier this month, happens in less than five percent of all studies. In fact, these studies have had the opposite effect than researchers hoped: it marred the results once it was revealed what industry was behind the research.
Moreover, many anti-vaping advocates also point out that the massive amounts of flavors will lead children and teens into smoking cigarettes. Nutt disagrees, especially considering that young adults who vape rarely vape anything with nicotine because the taste conflicts with the flavor they have chosen. In fact, recent studies have shown that in the U.K. and the U.S., smoking among teens is actually falling.
The professor also goes on to discuss the ulterior motives that the tobacco industry might have in underwriting studies. Some anti-smoking advocates say it’s to create regulations so stringent and difficult to navigate, as has happened here in the U.S. with the FDA regulations going into effect, that it will make it impossible for any other company other than a cigarette company to adhere to the regulations. Others have opined that by scaring the public into thinking vaping is just as bad as smoking, Big Tobacco will eliminate the industry and return to being the profitable giants they were before.
Both of these could be true and would be absolutely effective if it weren’t for a few things: one, that vaping has already been proven to be 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes; and two, that many vapers are used to Big Tobacco’s marketing and public relations schemes. Vapers are aware that the misinformation that the industry is spreading is untrue and are working diligently in order to temper it with objective information.
What is perhaps most heart-wrenching of this ordeal, as Nutt states in his piece, is that there is a little hidden secret that many who work in legislation and science know that the public may not be privy to:
Banning cigarettes altogether is impossible.
Indeed, here in the United States, federal law protects tobacco companies from direct attacks or legislation removing its products from shelves. While the public may not be aware of this, public health advocates and anti-tobacco campaigners do know.
So if anti-vaping advocates want to get rid of traditional cigarettes but know that they can’t, what’s the next best option? If they believe that vaping is a gateway to traditional cigarettes, then they will do everything in their power to ban it. After all, many of these advocates truly believe that vaping is bad for the public, despite the growing amount of studies that contradict that idea.
Because vaping isn’t protected like tobacco is, banning it now seems like the right course of action for anti-smoking advocates. By choosing to prop up now-debunked claims that children are being enticed to vape and that it will eventually lead them to smoking cigarettes, the anti-vape movement is actually playing into the hands of the industry that wants to restrain the growth of the vape industry.
Unfortunately, this misguided measure may do more harm than good. Nutt mentions several times in his opinion that if traditional cigarettes were allowed to remain while vaping was banned, it would cost the public a viable alternative to smoking cessation and could very well end up costing people their health or their lives.
No one wants to see people lose their health over a debate on vaping, but that is precisely what is happening. Until more people like Nutt argue their opinion in mainstream forums, creating a dialogue between the public, the vaping and tobacco industries, and the government, we will be left to figure out what information is useful and what is not through more passionate means.