Why the ‘Eliminate Cancer Initiative’ will INCREASE cancer rates
Posted on July 27, 2018
The Eliminate Cancer Initiative was established to reduce cancer. Perversely, its campaign to ban e-cigarettes will increase cancer rates.
The ECI, set up by Andrew and Nicola Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation, wants regulation to prohibit vaping. However, in doing so it denies millions of addicted Australian smokers access to a far safer alternative that has the potential to save
many thousands of lives.
Complete cessation of all tobacco and nicotine is always the preferred goal. However,
many smokers are not able to quit with conventional treatment and vaping provides
a far less harmful alternative. It delivers nicotine and a “smoking-like” experience,
without the smoke that causes most of the harm to health. Vaping is now the most popular quitting aid in Great Britain, the United States and the European Union.
The theory that vaping is a gateway to smoking is not proved, however if there is an
effect it is likely to be very small. It is possible that some non-smoking young people who would not otherwise have smoked, will try vaping and progress to smoking. However, this small cost needs to be balanced against the substantial improvement in public health from helping adult smokers to quit. Most vaping by young people is
experimental and short lived.
As vaping rates have been increasing in young people in many countries, smoking rates have been declining rapidly, in some cases faster than ever.
The evidence suggests vaping is replacing, rather than encouraging, smoking of tobacco among young people and is reducing smoking uptake.
There is good evidence that e-cigarettes have helped millions of smokers to quit. More than six million people reported quitting smoking with an e-cigarette in the EU and nearly two million in England.
Smoking is the leading preventable cause of cancer in Australia. Many smokers try
and fail repeatedly to quit and remain at high risk of cancer and other smoking-related diseases. Smokers who switch to vaping are exposed to far lower levels of carcinogens and other toxic compounds than smoking, according to the American Cancer Society.
It is no surprise that the overall cancer risk from long-term vaping has been
estimated at less than 0.5 per cent of the risk from smoking. The risk of lung cancer from passive vaping was calculated to be 100,000 times less than from smoking.
While well intentioned, the Eliminate Cancer Initiative’s proposal will remove an
effective and popular quitting aid and perpetuate tobacco smoking and all its harmful effects. It denies adult smokers access to a safer alternative that could be lifesaving.
Published 27 August 2018
By Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn, chairman of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association
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