Just a week after the TGA made its decision to keep life-saving vaping technology illegal in Australia, a leading medical journal has confirmed what we’ve all known for a while – that smokers who switched to e-cigarette vaping “substantially reduced their intake of cancer-causing chemicals compared to those who continued to smoke cigarettes”. Indeed, “Smokers who manage to cut out smoking altogether may see a health benefit from switching to e-cigarettes.”
Vaping has gained immense popularity in recent years as a quit-smoking aid with studies confirming that over 6 million Europeans have quit cigarettes by making the switch to electronic. A ‘cleaner’ and safer alternative to cigarettes, e-cigs work by providing a dose of nicotine free of the carcinogenic chemicals associated with cigarettes and without using the combustion process known to aggravate cancer-causing effects. Despite these benefits, a number of Australian public health bodies remain opposed to the legalised sale of nicotine-bearing e-liquids – even though gums, patches and a range of other nicotine-bearing anti-smoking aids remain available.
The latest study appears in the US-based Annals of Internal Medicine and overrules reports cited by e-cigarette opponents alleging that they are just as dangerous as smoking cigarettes, noting that these assume a degree of exposure to carcinogens and toxins that is totally out-of-step with the real-world exposure of E-cig users.
The researchers solved this problem in the first long-term study of its kind, measuring the intake of potentially harmful chemicals in e-cig users and comparing them to people using licensed nicotine patches and cigarettes. The study found that when smokers switched completely to e-cigarettes, their intake of cancer-causing chemicals dramatically fell to a level found in people using nicotine patches while their intake of nicotine remained largely unchanged. Indeed, complete switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes was found to be significantly beneficial compared to using nicotine gums and patches in tandem with smoking.
At a time when we are faced with the imperative of combatting the death and suffering caused by smoking-related illnesses like cancer, the world’s public health authorities are recommending e-cigs and vaping as effective smoking cessation and harm reduction tools.
We know that vaping saves lives by providing a far healthier alternative to tobacco smoking and we now have a consistent body of research from all over the world backing it up. In light of these findings, the TGA’s decision can only be regarded as short-sighted and based off speculation and hysteria that is becoming increasingly confined to a minority of health experts. Keeping the technology illegal ultimately addresses neither the wants nor the best interests of consumers.
Satyajeet Marar is the Executive Director of MyChoice Australia