E-cigarettes are definitely the latest innovation in nicotine delivery products to fly the harm-reduction flag. They follow the huge failures of cigarette filters. Over many years, filters falsely reassured countless smokers that they were reducing their exposure to harm and so could keep smoking.
We had the lights and milds fiasco – which saw 80% of Australian smokers select those misleadingly labelled brands, in which the ACCC outlawed from 2005 as a consumer fraud.
In the process we saw reduced carcinogen brands as well as asbestos filtered cigarettes.
There is massive publicity about harm reduction from filters and low tar, and massive consumer uptake, however, not a blip within the incidence of tobacco caused disease in those that still smoked.
Because of harm-reduction arguments, countless smokers continued smoking who might otherwise have quit. The tobacco industry drove these arguments and was supported by many in public health who innocently thought these were no-brainers. Nigel Gray, a giant of global tobacco control, later admitted that this decades-long, well-intentioned low-tar harm-reduction policy had been a disaster.
Meanwhile, we continued using the core policies of trying to stop uptake, encourage quit attempts and denormalise smoking via smoke-free policies to safeguard non-smokers. Together, these objectives have delivered Australia the lowest smoking prevalence in the world.
For 35 years considering that the early 1980s, we have now seen continually falling incidence rates of tobacco-caused disease. Female lung cancer seems likely to never reach even half the peak we saw in males. Awkwardly for many, Australia has become a world leader in lessening smoking with no mass cessation clinic network or major embrace of best electronic cigarettes review.
Today, demands are being made to rush in soft-touch regulation to allow e-cigarettes to become manufactured, flavoured, promoted and used virtually without restriction.
This is all being done on the shoulders of an argument that insists that after half a century of tobacco control, there remain many smokers who can’t or don’t want to give up their nicotine dependence, and that in just a few years, sufficient evidence has already accumulated to demonstrate that e-cigarettes both are benign and great for cessation.
But the “can’t quit” argument has received remarkably little critical interrogation. We know that hundreds of countless often heavily dependent smokers have quit since the early 1960s, most without any assistance whatsoever.
We know that today’s smokers smoke fewer cigarettes daily than whenever you want before, precisely the opposite of what the hardening hypothesis would predict.
The needs from the “we don’t wish to quit/we love nicotine” vaping activists for unregulated use of e-cigarettes as well as make use of them without restrictions must be balanced against the hazards of what these demands might mean izzert population-wide progress toward the aim of keeping smoking heading south.
Comprehensive tobacco control is not just about the preferences of vapers. It really is above all about continuing to starve the tobacco industry of new recruits and make certain that smoking is made history.
When we consider e-cigarettes as being a transformative genie in a bottle, we must think very carefully before allowing it to out, because putting genies in their bottles is a lot more difficult than impulsively allowing them to out. Should they prove to be benevolent, all’s good. However, if they bring false hopes and keep many individuals smoking, we may be exploring the early days of any third major false god of tobacco harm reduction.