E-cigarettes are the latest innovation in nicotine delivery products to fly the harm-reduction flag. They follow the huge failures of cigarette filters. Over years, filters falsely convinced an incredible number of smokers that they were reducing their exposure to harm and so could keep smoking.
We also 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 and even asbestos filtered cigarettes.
There was clearly massive publicity about harm reduction from filters and low tar, and massive consumer uptake, but not a blip within the incidence of tobacco caused disease in those who still smoked.
Thanks to harm-reduction arguments, countless smokers continued smoking who might otherwise have quit. The tobacco industry drove these arguments and was maintained 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 was actually a disaster.
Meanwhile, we continued using the core policies of attempting to stop uptake, encourage quit attempts and denormalise smoking via smoke-free policies to guard non-smokers. Together, these objectives have delivered Australia the lowest smoking prevalence on the planet.
For 35 years because the early 1980s, we have now seen continually falling incidence rates of tobacco-caused disease. Female carcinoma of the lung seems prone to never reach even half the peak we saw in males. Awkwardly for some, Australia has turned into a world leader in lessening smoking without any mass cessation clinic network or major embrace of reviews electronic cigarette.
Today, demands are created to rush in soft-touch regulation to allow e-cigarettes to be manufactured, flavoured, promoted and used virtually without restriction.
This can be all being done on the shoulders of the argument that insists that after fifty years of tobacco control, there remain many smokers who can’t or don’t want to stop their nicotine dependence, and this within a couple of years, sufficient evidence has already accumulated to exhibit that e-cigarettes both are benign and perfect for cessation.
However the “can’t quit” argument has gotten remarkably little critical interrogation. We understand that hundreds of millions of often heavily dependent smokers have quit considering that the early 1960s, most without the assistance in any way.
We realize that today’s smokers smoke fewer cigarettes each day than anytime before, precisely the opposite of just what the hardening hypothesis would predict.
The demands in the “we don’t desire to quit/we love nicotine” vaping activists for unregulated use of e-cigarettes and to utilize them without restrictions must be balanced from the hazards of what these demands might mean izzert population-wide progress toward the goal of keeping smoking heading south.
Comprehensive tobacco control is not just regarding the preferences of vapers. It is actually most importantly about continuing to starve the tobacco industry of the latest recruits and ensure that smoking is created history.
When we think about e-cigarettes as being a transformative genie in a bottle, we need to think meticulously before letting it out, because putting genies in their bottles is a lot more difficult than impulsively permitting them to out. Should they turn out to be benevolent, all’s good. But when they bring false hopes whilst keeping many individuals smoking, we could be exploring the early days of a third major false god of tobacco harm reduction.