E-cigarettes are the latest development in nicotine delivery products to fly the harm-reduction flag. They follow the huge failures of cigarette filters. Over many years, filters falsely reassured countless smokers that they were reducing their being exposed to harm and so could keep smoking.
We also had the lights and milds fiasco – which saw 80% of Australian smokers select those misleadingly labelled brands, in which the ACCC outlawed from 2005 as a consumer fraud.
Along the way we saw reduced carcinogen brands as well as asbestos filtered cigarettes.
There is massive publicity about harm reduction from filters and low tar, and massive consumer uptake, however, not a blip in the incidence of tobacco caused disease in people who still smoked.
Because of 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 areas health who innocently thought these were no-brainers. Nigel Gray, a giant of global tobacco control, later admitted the decades-long, well-intentioned low-tar harm-reduction policy was actually a disaster.
Meanwhile, we continued with the core policies of trying to prevent uptake, encourage quit attempts and denormalise smoking via smoke-free policies to safeguard non-smokers. Together, these objectives have delivered Australia the lowest smoking prevalence on the planet.
For 35 years considering that the early 1980s, we now have seen continually falling incidence rates of tobacco-caused disease. Female carcinoma of the lung seems very likely to never reach even half the peak we saw in males. Awkwardly for a few, Australia has turned into a world leader in cutting smoking without any mass cessation clinic network or major embrace of e cig reviews.
Today, demands are now being created to rush in soft-touch regulation to enable e-cigarettes to become manufactured, flavoured, promoted and used virtually without restriction.
This can be all being done on the shoulders of an argument that insists that after half a century of tobacco control, there remain many smokers who can’t or don’t want to quit their nicotine dependence, and this in just a couple of years, sufficient evidence has accumulated to exhibit that e-cigarettes both are benign and great for cessation.
However the “can’t quit” argument has received remarkably little critical interrogation. We know that countless countless often heavily dependent smokers have quit because the early 1960s, most without the assistance at all.
We know that today’s smokers smoke fewer cigarettes each day than anytime previously, exactly the opposite of exactly what the hardening hypothesis would predict.
The requirements in the “we don’t wish to quit/we love nicotine” vaping activists for unregulated usage of e-cigarettes as well as make use of them without restrictions should be balanced up against the risks of what these demands might mean izzert population-wide progress toward the aim of keeping smoking heading south.
Comprehensive tobacco control is not just regarding the preferences of vapers. It is above all about continuing to starve the tobacco industry of the latest recruits and make certain that smoking is produced history.
If we think about e-cigarettes as a transformative genie in a bottle, we have to think meticulously before letting it out, because putting genies way back in their bottles is much more difficult than impulsively permitting them to out. If they prove to be benevolent, all’s good. But when they bring false hopes while keeping many individuals smoking, we could be exploring the beginning of any third major false god of tobacco harm reduction.