The research, which will be in the upcoming volume of the Annual Review of Public Health, took a look at Alternative Nicotine Delivery Systems (ANDS) and their ability to reduce the harm exposure of smokers
Helping smokers off cigarettes continues to be one of the most significant health challenges facing America today. But most people have extreme difficulty quitting, even once they finally decide that’s the best course of action. But a growing consensus of scientists believes that harm reduction tools represent our best chance of reducing the impact of tobacco on societal health. Chief among these harm reduction tools in both terms of popularity and effectiveness is e-cigarettes and vaping.
A brand new study from researchers at New York University took a look at different types of Alternative Nicotine Delivery Systems (ANDS) and tracked their benefits and risks to help guide future policymaking. One of their primary conclusions was that we must reframe the way our society thinks about harm reduction tools for them to have their effectiveness maximized. While it’s true that total cessation would be the safest and healthiest route, harm minimization offers us a real opportunity to improve the smoking cessation efforts around the world.
Stopping The Misconceptions
Smoking cigarettes are the chief method of ingesting nicotine. Many people think of this as the most prominent problem regarding tobacco. But really, it’s the carbon monoxide, and the plethora of carcinogenic substances also found in cigarette smoke that causes so much death and disease. In fact, doctors agree that by itself, nicotine is most similar to caffeine in terms of risk and effect on the body. But unfortunately, most people don’t understand this and end up seeing nicotine as the main culprit. Nicotine patches and gum have long been the best method of safely getting nicotine into the bloodstream. But e-cigarettes have already proven to be more satisfying and productive at getting smokers to quit for good.
The led author of the NYU report is Dr. David Abrams, and he believes the first step in limiting smoking is correcting these misconceptions. Most of their reviews of toxicology and clinical reports found that the level of harmful chemicals in vapor is dramatically lower than in cigarette smoke. Their findings line right up with the famous 2015 PHE report that indicated vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking.
The Rise Of Vaping
The problem with traditional nicotine replacement therapies like patches and gum is that, while they’re very safe to use, they’re majorly lacking in the sort of satisfaction that comes from smoking an actual cigarette; That’s where vaping has proven to be so successful. E-cigarettes offer a much safer alternative to smoking that is legitimately smoke-like and satisfying. Thus while they may not be quite as safe as patches, they provide the best of both worlds.
The British Psychological Society also believes this to be a significant key to their effectiveness. They updated their guidelines last year to acknowledge that for smokers looking to quit, vaping can activate many of the psychological cues that smoking did. These signals can vastly improve the chances of a smoker following through with their quit attempt. Dr. Abrams of NYU agrees with this position, “A smoker who finds an e-cigarette that is enjoyable can switch. Successful switchers have either switched quickly or slowly after a period of both vaping and cutting back on smoking and by trying a flavor other than tobacco.”
While scientists have known the benefits for the last few years, the US government seems to finally be coming around to vaping as a smoking cessation tool. The new FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, announced in July last year that they would be making a significant shift in how they regulate tobacco and vaping. This included delaying the controversial deeming rules until 2022, as well as stating that their focus would shift toward reducing the addictiveness of traditional cigarettes. Dr. Abrams thinks that vaping could ultimately put an end too, or at least substantially disrupt, the century-old Big Tobacco business. This should be the eventual goal of any tobacco control group, especially now that we have strong evidence supporting vaping as a very successful smoking cessation tool.
Do you think vaping is a more viable smoking cessation tool than patches, even though they may potentially be more dangerous? Why do you believe vaping is so successful at helping people off of smoking? Do you know anyone who was unable to quit with vaping, but was successful with patches or gum? Let us know in the comments.