Vaping can help more smokers quit if public health community seriously considered its benefits

New scientific paper weigh in on balancing between vaping as an effective cessation tool and risk to youth potentially taking up vaping. While vaping has been proven to be immensely effective in helping smokers quit, the fear of a younger non-smoking population taking up vaping is preventing the public health community to acknowledge the important role vape can play.
A new scientific paper says that vaping could play a significantly larger role in helping adult smokers quit, if smokers received accurate information about risks associated with vaping compared to regular cigarette smoking.
Titled “Balancing Consideration of the Risks and Benefits of E-Cigarettes” and published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), the lead authors for the paper include David J.K. Balfour, professor emeritus with the Division of Systems Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Dundee, Dundee, UK, said a press release.
The authors say that youth vaping is a matter of public concern and should be taken seriously but it should be done in appropriate context and not at the expense of the adult smokers who can benefit from vaping as a quitting tool.
“We share the very legitimate concerns about youth vaping with the entire field of public health. Our goal is to put those concerns in perspective,” the authors said. The authors noted that opponents of vaping focus on the risks for young people, while supporters stress on the potential for vaping to assist smokers in quitting smoking.
Most US health organizations, media coverage, and policymakers have focused primarily on risks to youths. Because of this messaging, much of the public—including most smokers—now consider vaping as dangerous as or more dangerous than smoking, the paper’s authors wrote.
By contrast, the paper points out, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that e-cigarette use is likely far less hazardous than smoking. Policies intended to reduce adolescent vaping may also reduce adult smokers’ use of e-cigarettes in quit attempts.
The paper looks at different public data sets relating to the relative health risks of vaping, the likelihood of vaping increasing smoking cessation, different randomized trials and population studies, and discusses how a balance can be struck between preventing the youth from taking up vaping but helping smokers quit through vape at the same time.
“While evidence suggests that vaping is currently increasing smoking cessation, the impact could be much larger if the public health community paid serious attention to vaping’s potential to help adult smokers, smokers received accurate information about the relative risks of vaping and smoking, and policies were designed with the potential effects on smokers in mind. That is not happening,” the paper concludes.