Washington DC Missing Bigger Picture On Vaping Benefits
Washington DC political insiders have a lot to learn from their allies across the pond, especially where vaping is concerned.
The Guardian, one of the United Kingdom’s leading publications, reported earlier this week that more than half of the estimated 2.9 million smokers in the country that use vaping have quit tobacco altogether. This is the first time since the inception of the vaping in the UK reporting on vaping that this has occurred. The incredible statistic, which comes courtesy of the annual Smokefree GB Survey, demonstrates that citizens who are properly briefed on the pros and cons of a smoking cessation method will decide to give vaping a chance.
However, the survey, which is conducted by the Action on Smoking and Health group, also shows something else: over nine million people in the UK still smoke cigarettes, and what’s more, they refuse to try vaping because they think it’s just as harmful, or in some cases, more harmful, than smoking.
The Ash survey, as the report is called, was done primarily online by YouGov, a world-leading online market research company that is located in London. It surveyed approximately 12,969 adults and was weighted to represent the entire UK adult population.
Ann McNeill, who holds the position of professor of tobacco addiction at King’s College London, remarked that the findings were positive overall, saying that: “This year’s Ash survey finds that around 1.5 million vapers are ex-smokers, for the first time a larger number than those who continue to smoke.”
McNeill continued on, stating that: “This is encouraging news as we know that vapers who continue to smoke continue to be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals. The message for the 1.3 million vapers who still smoke is that they need to go further and switch completely.”
The rate of smokers switching to vaping has slowed, however, in recent years. Many in the science community believe that this has something to do with the fight in the US over vaping and the misinformation campaign that has resulted because of it; a fight, that readers know, is still being waged, both in local and national legislative bodies.
Because America has long been a pioneer in many aspects of public health, it makes sense that citizens of other countries would choose to wait until the US comes to a position on vaping. Unfortunately, the massive effort on the part of anti-vaping advocates to discredit the industry as another harmful addiction is confusing the public and ensuring that few smokers have accurate information to what vaping can do for them.
The chief executive of Ash, Deborah Arnott, stated this simply when asked about this by reporters. She said: “The rapid growth in e-cigarette use has come to an end while over a third of smokers have still never tried e-cigarettes, saying the main reasons are concerns about the safety and addictiveness of e-cigarettes. It’s very important smokers realise that vaping is much, much less harmful than smoking.”
The difference in how the UK and the US view vaping is stark, especially considering that one of the leading UK health agencies, Public Health England, currently reports that vaping is 95 percent safer than traditional cigarettes. In fact, the government has even issued a report that encourages UK employers to add vaping as a smoking cessation method that’s allowed on-site for smokers who are trying to quit.
America seems to be taking the opposite approach to handling vaping; as this publication has reported before, the US Food and Drug Administration announced in August of 2016 that it would be regulating vape products, including tech devices and batteries, as tobacco products. The agency also set a predicate date that meant that any vape product on the market after February 15, 2008, would be subject to a Pre-Market Tobacco Application, leaving many vape businesses in the country essentially bankrupt.
Now CNBC is reporting that the FDA has announced additional regulations to hit the vape industry. As of August 2017, the production and marketing rules that have been set for tobacco extend to vape products.
While this act may not seem as though it’s a big deal, it actually is, and for one very big reason: public health. Because vaping has come to light as one of the most successful smoking cessation methods to grace the open market ever, the fact that the industry will not be allowed to market vaping that way to adult smokers means that those that could be helped by vaping will not be allowed to know, by law, that it could save their lives.
Washington is also ignorant on vaping from an economical standpoint. The vaping industry is currently estimated to be worth $32 billion by the year 2021, with most of the profits coming from small businesses all around the country. This is a sector that President Trump has promised to help, a campaign vow that few in the vaping industry is willing to let him forget.
If the government eradicates the market by pushing forward with PMTAs and over-regulation of vaping, it risks losing this burgeoning industry and the profits it could yield through taxation. States that have already calculated the tax profits from vaping would see that money disappear from its budget and be left with unbalanced budgets, something that the law in the country prohibits.
But even as Washington fails to see the good that could come from vaping, researchers and advocates are not giving up the fight. In fact, more voices rise to tout vaping as a smoking cessation method every day, including drug researcher Carrie Wade.
“As a harm-reduction tool, e-cigarettes should be available, even promoted, to current smokers as an alternative to traditional cigarettes,” said Wade, writing for The Hill in an opinion piece that was released last week.
Wade went on to state that: ”History has proven that abstinence approaches do not work: Teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection rates did not decline in states that emphasized an abstinence-only sex education curriculum and criminalization of heroin use did not stop overdose deaths,” she added.
The FDA currently estimates that cigarettes can account for over 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, leaving many to question why the government would be against a smoking cessation method that both saves lives and contributes to the country’s economy. While the answer is not yet clear, it is the goal of this publication to continue to provide true and relevant information for readers so that they may be well informed of the policy decisions that threaten their right to vape in order to save their own lives.