E-cigarettes are definitely the latest innovation in nicotine delivery products to fly the harm-reduction flag. They follow the massive failures of cigarette filters. Over years, filters falsely reassured countless smokers that they were reducing their exposure 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, that the ACCC outlawed from 2005 being a consumer fraud.
In the process we saw reduced carcinogen brands as well as asbestos filtered cigarettes.
There was massive publicity about harm reduction from filters and low tar, and massive consumer uptake, but not a blip in the incidence of tobacco caused disease in those who still smoked.
Thanks 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 places health who innocently thought these people were no-brainers. Nigel Gray, a huge of global tobacco control, later admitted that the decades-long, well-intentioned low-tar harm-reduction policy had been a disaster.
Meanwhile, we continued with the core policies of attempting to prevent 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 in the world.
For 35 years because the early 1980s, we now have seen continually falling incidence rates of tobacco-caused disease. Female lung cancer seems prone to never reach even half the peak we saw in males. Awkwardly for many, Australia has turned into a world leader in reducing smoking without any mass cessation clinic network or major embrace of e cig reviews.
Today, demands are now being designed to rush in soft-touch regulation to permit e-cigarettes to get manufactured, flavoured, promoted and used virtually without restriction.
This really is 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 stop their nicotine dependence, and that within a few years, sufficient evidence has now accumulated to demonstrate that e-cigarettes both are benign and perfect for cessation.
However the “can’t quit” argument has received remarkably little critical interrogation. We understand that numerous countless often heavily dependent smokers have quit since the early 1960s, most without the assistance in any way.
We realize that today’s smokers smoke fewer cigarettes per day than whenever you want previously, precisely the complete opposite of exactly what the hardening hypothesis would predict.
The demands from the “we don’t want to quit/we love nicotine” vaping activists for unregulated usage of e-cigarettes and also to use them without restrictions should be balanced from the perils of what these demands might mean izzert population-wide progress toward the goal of keeping smoking heading south.
Comprehensive tobacco control is not just about the preferences of vapers. It is most importantly about continuing to starve the tobacco industry of new recruits and make sure that smoking is made history.
Whenever we think of e-cigarettes being a transformative genie in a bottle, we must think very carefully before letting it out, because putting genies way back in their bottles is much more difficult than impulsively letting them out. Should they turn out to be benevolent, all’s good. But when they bring false hopes whilst keeping many individuals smoking, we may be studying the early days of a third major false god of tobacco harm reduction.