E-cigarettes are definitely the latest development in nicotine delivery products to fly the harm-reduction flag. They follow the massive failures of cigarette filters. Over many years, filters falsely convinced an incredible number of smokers that they were reducing their contact with harm and so could keep smoking.
We had the lights and milds fiasco – which saw 80% of Australian smokers select those misleadingly labelled brands, that the ACCC outlawed from 2005 as a consumer fraud.
Along the way we saw reduced carcinogen brands and even asbestos filtered cigarettes.
There was massive publicity about harm reduction from filters and low tar, and massive consumer uptake, but not a blip inside the incidence of tobacco caused disease in those who still smoked.
Due 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 people were no-brainers. Nigel Gray, a giant of global tobacco control, later admitted the decades-long, well-intentioned low-tar harm-reduction policy had been a disaster.
Meanwhile, we continued with all the core policies of attempting to avoid uptake, encourage quit attempts and denormalise smoking via smoke-free policies to safeguard non-smokers. Together, these objectives have delivered Australia the cheapest 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 lung cancer seems likely to never reach even half the peak we saw in males. Awkwardly for many, Australia has become a world leader in reducing smoking with no 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 get manufactured, flavoured, promoted and used virtually without restriction.
This can be all being done on the shoulders of an argument that insists that after 50 years of tobacco control, there remain many smokers who can’t or don’t want to quit their nicotine dependence, and that in just a couple of years, sufficient evidence has accumulated to demonstrate that e-cigarettes are generally benign and perfect for cessation.
However the “can’t quit” argument has gotten remarkably little critical interrogation. We realize that numerous an incredible number of often heavily dependent smokers have quit considering that the early 1960s, most with no assistance whatsoever.
We understand that today’s smokers smoke fewer cigarettes each day than whenever you want previously, the complete opposite of what the hardening hypothesis would predict.
The needs from the “we don’t want to quit/we like nicotine” vaping activists for unregulated use of e-cigarettes and to utilize them without restrictions has to be balanced from the risks of what these demands might mean izzert population-wide progress toward the objective of keeping smoking heading south.
Comprehensive tobacco control is not only concerning the preferences of vapers. It is actually most importantly about continuing to starve the tobacco industry of brand new recruits and make sure that smoking is produced history.
Whenever we think about e-cigarettes as being a transformative genie in a bottle, we must think thoroughly before letting it out, because putting genies way back in their bottles is a lot more difficult than impulsively permitting them to out. If they end up being benevolent, all’s good. But when they bring false hopes whilst keeping many people smoking, we might be exploring the beginning of a third major false god of tobacco harm reduction.