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Research Roundup: Vaping Shown to Help Decrease Smoking

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Here in Cyclops Blog land, we try to share the positive industry news along with the negative. We’ve had a lot of negative press lately, with taxes, bans, exploding devices and the FDA/FTC crackdown recently reported in a previous blog. Thus, today we are heading back into the positive world, with the latest research that supports vaping as an adult alternative to analog smoking. Let’s kick the habit together with these awesome reports:

First we head to Iceland, where the Directorate of Health has released a study that shows smoking on the island is declining. Even better, the study shows that e-cigarettes may be contributing to the decline of analog smoking. The Iceland Review reports that last year, 9% of Icelanders said they smoked on a daily basis, which was a drop of five percentage points in three years. Daily use of e-cigarettes increased 1% since 2016. Additionally, two out of every five people who vaped were dual users, but the report says that number is declining. Vapers who have stopped smoking altogether rose to 10%, higher than the 2016 numbers.

“There’s no other way to interpret these figures than that increasingly, people are quitting smoking and starting to vape,” Dr. Guðmundur Karl Snæbjörnsson told the Iceland Review. While the country’s parliament is looking to restrict e-cigarettes, Guðmundur said: “No research has shown the use of e-cigarettes to be harmful,” and “this bill may actually have an adverse effect on continuing to reduce the number of Icelanders using traditional cigarettes.”

Another research study in Nicotine and Tobacco Research shows that benefits of vaping as a way to quit analog smoking “far outweigh the health risks youths face if they go from electronic to traditional cigarettes,” as reported by Futurity.org. The controversy of which way the gateway swings is brewing larger than ever, but this analysis shows that “nearly 3.3 million life-years could be saved by the year 2070” with e-cigarettes as harm reduction tools.

Kenneth Warner, former dean of the University of Michigan School of Public Health and professor emeritus of public health and professor emeritus of health management and policy told Futurity: “I believe the case is strong; the benefits outweigh the risks,” and he noted that the “public health community must keep educating young people about the dangers of smoking and work to continue a sharply downward trend in smoking initiation.”

Finally, we head to New Zealand, where 200 people in the country took part in an online survey in 2016 conducted by Dr. Penny Truman of Massey University’s School of Health Sciences. The results were published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health earlier this year. MedicalXpress.com reports that the majority of vapers who took the survey started vaping to help quit smoking. New Zealand has a strict no nicotine sales policy, so Truman and her team wanted to shed light on how vaping can truly be a harm reduction tool in the country.

"We found the main reason for trying vaping was to stop or reduce smoking. Most study participants said they had completely switched from smoking to vaping. Some newer vapers still smoked, but they were still cutting down on cigarettes and some only smoked occasionally," Truman told MedicalXpress.com. "The results suggest that whilst some people switch from smoking to vaping quickly and completely, others have a longer transition. Most of the participants had changed the type of vaporiser they used several times. There was also a pattern of moving away from tobacco flavoured e-liquids, experimenting with many different flavours until they found several they liked and then continued to use on an ongoing basis."

The researchers urged the New Zealand government to legalize the sale of nicotine, which would help make the switch to vaping and get off smoking even easier: "It would also provide clarity around the greatly reduced risk associated with vaping compared to smoking which would encourage more people to make the switch. At the moment, inaccurate information about vaping is still being spread by and among health professionals. This needs to stop because it is keeping people smoking — the very opposite of what we want if we are serious about reaching the smoke-free goal of five percent or less smoking by 2025,” one of the researchers told MedicalXpress.com.