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Vaping advice is flawed and disastrous for public health

Posted on July 14, 2020


THREE AUSTRALIAN anti-vaping advocates posted an article on The Conversation yesterday supporting further restrictions on nicotine vaping. The article is truly awful. Here are a few reasons why.

The article is fatally flawed by

  • Cherry-picking data
  • Misinformation and false claims
  • Lack of context for claims
  • Exaggerating harms
  • Understating benefits

Here are several of the more egregious flaws:

1. “evidence for e-cigarettes helping people quit smoking is inconclusive”

False. Vaping is more effective than nicotine replacement therapy in randomised controlled trials and is increasing quit rates in countries such as the UK and US where it is widely available.

Evidence

2. "e-cigarette use in US secondary schools increased 78% in 12 months”

More importantly, youth smoking fell in the US by an unprecedented 25% in 2019.

  • Vaping is diverting kids from smoking
  • Most youth vaping is experimental and short term
  • Regular vaping by never-smokers is rare
  • Nearly all smoke before they vape (88% in the US)

Evidence

3. “there is no scientific basis for the claim that vaping is 95% harmful”

False. This estimate is based on comprehensive, independent evidence reviews  by the UK Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England.

Switching from smoking to vaping leads to

  • dramatic reduction in harmful toxins
  • substantially reduced 'biomarkers'
  • improved health outcomes

Evidence

4. “the tobacco industry and retail sector promote e-cigarettes

In the US, promotion is unfettered due to Constitutional barriers. In the UK, advertising is strictly controlled. Australia should follow the UK model. 

Evidence

5. “nicotine is poisonous and toxic”

In the doses used in vaping, nicotine is relatively benign and serious harmful effects are very rare.

According to the UK Royal College of Physicians “it is widely accepted that any long-term hazards of nicotine are likely to be of minimal consequence in relation to ... continued tobacco use”

Evidence

6. the restrictions are "bad news for the tobacco industry"

Wrong. Vaping is a huge, disruptive threat to the tobacco industry. Restrictions on vaping protect Big Tobacco from competition and lead to more smoking. Whenever vaping is threatened, tobacco stock prices rise and they fall when it is under pressure.

More information

7. "The restrictions will prevent profiteers from addicting young Australians to harmful products"

No. It will be easier for youth to buy a cigarette than a vape.  The black market will flourish and freely sell unregulated products to children. Thousands of vapers will return to smoking.

Read a more realistic explanations of what will happen if these new regulations are introduced by Australian toxicologist Dr Jody Morgan in The Conversation last week.

Why the ban on nicotine vape fluid will do more harm than good.

Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, colin@athra.org.au


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2 Replies to “Vaping advice is flawed and disastrous for public health”

keith knight

I stopped smoking tobacco after 50 years thanks to Vaping.

Nothing else worked.

The last thing the Government wants you to do is stop smoking. They'd go broke overnight.
A 50g pack of tobacco costs over $105 in Australia.
Vaping is saving me north of $6,500 per YEAR!

Lee Connor

If I had known about vaping, I could have stopped smoking ten years ago. As far as I am concerned, all the damage done to my health in the last decade is a direct result of the stupidity of our countries policies in vaping. They are denying Australian smokers the only viable chance they have of saving their own lives. The idea that just because one person can quit their habit cold means that everyone can is patently ridiculous – and the evidence shows that it is simply not true. It makes me feel so angry and helpless and frustrated that my life is being played with, and I can't fix it!! I want every one of these 'experts' to feel what I feel, and to be aware that what they are doing is having real consequences for real people.

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