A recent article for The Parliament Magazine entitled ‘Vaping is the gateway out of smoking’ is calling for policymakers to reconsider their stance on e-cigarettes, as they should be endorsing them as a stop smoking aid in the interest of a smoke-free future.
Why vaping is not a gateway into smoking
E-cigarettes, which have been widely available and popular as a smoking cessation tool since 2013, are seen as a novel technology, and this means they have been met with some suspicion by the EU. The article explains that recent criticism has “sought to frame vaping as a gateway to conventional smoking”.
This has long been proven untrue, and a recent survey by ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) actually reported that only 0.3% of never-smokers are currently e-cigarettes users, which accounts for 2.9% of vapers. Not only is the gateway effect not reflected in data, but numerous studies have concluded the opposite is true, and vaping is a gateway out of smoking.
How can e-cigarettes help smokers quit?
E-cigarettes are targeted at harm reduction, by giving users an alternative nicotine source that does not include all of the other harmful toxins that are found in traditional cigarettes.
The article, co-authored by Consumer Choice Center’s Maria Chaplia and World Vapers’ Alliance’s Director Michael Landl, states;
"The correlation between the introduction and the popularity of vaping and declining smoking rates suggests that vaping is an important innovation to help people quit smoking.”
One of the most important reports on vaping’s potential to save lives is from 2015, commissioned by Public Health England. This report found that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful that smoking, and the findings in this report have been a big supporting factor in the way in which the UK has embraced e-cigarettes as an invaluable smoking cessation tool.
The article suggests that if the EU continues to demonise vaping, it will negatively affect the chance of smokers making the switch to a ‘safer and healthier alternative’ and suggest that at this point we now know enough about vaping that there is no reason for the EU not to endorse it.
It is clear to see that countries that adopt harm reduction policies, such as endorsing the use of e-cigarettes, see a greater reduction in smoking rates than those who do not. A great example of this is the UK, where health authorities encourage the use of e-cigarettes as a stop smoking aid, and smoking rates are now at an all-time-low. On the other hand in Australia, where vaping has not been well received, rates of smoking have declined at a much slower rate;
“In the UK, approximately 25 percent fewer people smoke today compared to 2013, while the US has seen a 24 percent reduction. For the same period, Australia saw a decline of only 8 percent.”
There is a visible correlation between when e-cigarettes became widely available and popular as a stop smoking aid, and the reduction in smoking rates among the UK adult population.
‘Recent trends framing e-cigarettes as a gateway to smoking do not stand up to scrutiny. E-cigarettes are a gateway out of smoking. Anti-vaping measures are disastrous and detrimental to the health of smokers for whom vaping has become a life-saving tool.’
The article concludes by strongly encouraging policymakers to reconsider their stance on vaping, in line with the overwhelming amount of data that proves it to be an undeniably effective tool to help smokers pursue a healthier lifestyle and reduce their risks of future illness and disease. Ending with the strong and decisive statement;
‘Despite many voices seeking to undermine vaping as a gateway out of smoking, the evidence is sound: vaping saves lives.’
So with mounting calls to re-evaluate their approach to vaping, we can only hope that the EU will help prioritise the health of the public, and encourage adult smokers to pursue a safer alternative to smoking.