- Fifteen former presidents of the highly regarded research institution, Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT), endorse the benefits of e-cigarettes in reducing smoking deaths
- The paper seeks to clarify misinformation around vaping and gives a scientific counter to the narrow approach taken by a section of policymakers and media
- AVI endorses the article and urges Indian authorities to consider sensible tobacco harm reduction (THR) policies to address the country’s tobacco crisis
MUMBAI, India, Aug. 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A recent review titled ‘Balancing Consideration of the Risks and Benefits of E-Cigarettes’ published in the American Journal of Health has been co-authored by fifteen eminent tobacco control scientists, led by tobacco control expert Kenneth Warner, a professor emeritus of health management and policy, University of Michigan. The review highlights how most media reports surrounding vaping and e-cigarettes (ECs) focus primarily on the negative effects, while only a small fraction mention its relative benefits. The media also consistently focusses on the attraction of vaping among children. This creates a generally negative view amongst the public, who fear vaping to be as harmful as or even more harmful than smoking.
This study is in line with the mission of Association of Vapers India (AVI), which fully endorses the view of the authors to find a ‘sensible mix of policy’ focusing on increasing adult smoking cessation as well as reducing youth smoking. The public health community and policymakers need to pay serious attention to adult smokers especially because tobacco dependence is disproportionately large in underprivileged and minority communities, with inequal access to health resources.
Reactionary statement from AVI:
AVI believes this message is of much greater significance for a country like India, which has a significant tobacco user base. “India, with its struggling healthcare system and huge burden of tobacco deaths, should readily embrace tobacco harm reduction measures. This recent report will be of immense help to AVI in convincing policymakers of the benefits of vaping,” says AVI director Samrat Chowdhery. Policymakers in India have been immune to the science in this field and have banned the sale and manufacturing of vaping devices. An endorsement of this magnitude is hard to ignore and hopefully will influence lawmakers to review their stand.
The authors of the paper are highly respected in the field of tobacco control and their views cannot be disregarded as biased or corporate sponsored. The dialogue in the field of tobacco harm reduction needs to change, with due recognition for the public health benefits of transitioning current tobacco users to less harmful alternatives.
The review systematically addresses most points in the vaping debate to take a well-balanced view on its usefulness as a tobacco harm reduction strategy. It cites many studies to show vaping is significantly less dangerous than combustible cigarette smoking. It also refers to clinical trials and population studies indicating vaping encourages smoking cessation at almost twice the rates over traditional nicotine replacement therapies like gums and patches.
The authors have linked the use of ECs with a decline in the sale of combustible cigarettes, highlighting studies that show policies restricting vaping may lead to an unintentional rise in smoking and reduce cessation efforts.
The report considers youth vaping an important aspect to monitor, even though many studies disprove fears of vaping acting as a gateway drug for youth or leading to a population level change in nicotine dependence. Experts mention that “as public health groups, the media, policymakers, and the general public focus on youth vaping, vaping’s potential to help adults quit smoking too often gets lost. That may come at a significant public health cost.”
The writers also propose illustrative policy measures, including taxing combustible tobacco products highly and ECs modestly, restricting flavoured vaping products to adult only sale points, communicating the use of vaping as a ‘less-risky (not risk free)’ way of quitting smoking, regulating the level of nicotine in ECs and its advertising.
Association of Vapers India is a non-profit that advocates for tobacco harm reduction measures, including the use of electronic cigarettes and snus. AVI is connected to a community of over a lakh consumers who have quit smoking through vaping. Its members include professionals from all walks of life, including medical, legal and policy experts.
AVI is part of International Network of Consumer Organsations (INNCO), which represents 40 national consumer advocacy bodies.
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