A less harmful alternative?

The debate on vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking combustible tobacco continues

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A less harmful alternative?- BPN TODAY

Adult smokers could benefit significantly from accessibility to, and availability of reduced risk nicotine products such as vape, according to a harm reduction expert based in the United States (US).

Dr Pritika C. Kumar, a senior fellow for Integrated Harm Reduction Policy at the R Street Institute, made this statement after highlighting that smoking combustible tobacco products is the leading cause of preventable deaths.

R Street Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public policy research organisation.

“At present there are approximately 1.1 billion smokers which translates to roughly one in five adults globally. 80% of them live in low and middle income countries.”

“The most effective way to reduce the harm from smoking is to quit. But for many quitting is not a reality either because of an individual’s unwillingness or inability. This is where vaping becomes an important tool for quitting combustible tobacco products.”

“While there is no vaping product that is free of harm, the risk cliff between vaping (when used exclusively) and using combustible tobacco products is astoundingly steep.”

Multiple leading authorities in the US such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) have all confirmed that vape is much less harmful than combustible tobacco products.

Despite these facts, confirmed by the world’s leading scientific authorities and scientific literature, there continues to be ongoing confusion.

In response to this, Dr Kumar added, “to be clear, electronic cigarettes (or vape) and other non-combustible tobacco products are significantly less harmful than combustible tobacco products. The nicotine in combustible tobacco products is addictive, but we must separate the concept of toxicity from addiction.”

In addressing concerns that vape will encourage a new generation of smokers, Dr Kumar shared findings from a simulation analysis from 2018 that concluded the upside health benefit associated with vape, in terms of their potential to increase adult smoking cessation, exceeds their downside risk to health as a result of their possibly increasing the number of smoking initiators.

Commenting on this study, Dr Kumar said that “even if estimates from these studies are accepted as causal, they would account for only a 2% increase in smoking initiation rates. These studies also have limitations such as results based on small cohorts, publication bias, loss to follow-up or high attrition rates and lack of proper adjustment of confounders, such as shared propensity to substance use and genetics.”

“Vaping is not risk free but is, undoubtedly, much less harmful than smoking – and the practice of harm reduction means that we try to meet adult smokers where they are and use tools to vehicle to move addicted smokers down that continuum of risk to these less harmful, innovative products,” she concluded.

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Disclaimer: The above article was published on a website. The opinions expressed in this article are the Author’s own and do not reflect the view of the staff of BPN TODAY

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