TORONTO – Living – The Canadian Vaping Association and many health organizations around the world have relentlessly shared the Royal College of Physicians finding that vaping is 95% less harmful smoking.
This conclusion was drawn more than 6 years ago and has undergone annual independent reviews. Today, Public Health England maintains that vaping does not exceed 5% of the harm caused by smoking. 95% less harmful is a percentage expression of vaping’s comparative toxicity relative to combustible tobacco, based on a comprehensive review of a broad range of research and studies. It’s a significant and bold finding that has the potential to play a large role in developing the national relative risk statements. If toxicity is reduced by 95%, it is only logical that the relative harm is reduced by the same amount.
The considerable differences between vaping and smoking begin with the absence of toxic chemicals that are found in cigarettes. It is the tar, not the nicotine, that increases a smoker’s likelihood of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and pulmonary diseases. Nicotine itself does not cause cancer and there is little evidence that nicotine causes any of these other harmful effects when isolated. When an adult uses a vaping device, the excessively toxic elements of smoking are nonexistent, leading to a less harmful product that can be used as an alternative to smoking.
Smokers that use vaping products will see several physical improvements. The stagnant smell of cigarettes no longer lingers on their clothes or in their hair. There is a subsiding of yellow fingers and teeth that can increase a person’s sense of wellbeing and self-confidence. Studies also find that smokers who have transitioned to vaping experience improved lung function, less frequent asthma events, and various other physiological improvements.
This statement of relative risk doesn’t mean that a former smoker’s risk of tobacco-related illness or premature death is eliminated. It’s important to consider several factors, including the length of time a person has smoked and the quantity of cigarettes they consumed during that period. Previous smoking will continue to play a role in individual health outcomes, at least in the short term, but vaping reduces further exposure to many of the toxic chemicals and tar found in cigarettes.
Non-smokers should not vape, but for smokers, the risks are substantially reduced by vaping instead of smoking and can lead to a better quality of life than that of a smoker. When taken together, these facts demonstrate why fully understanding the 95% less harmful finding is so crucial. Research has proven that nicotine itself is relatively safe when isolated for the purpose of smoking cessation.
With complete disregard for the science, Canada has proposed restrictions on flavoured vape products. Canada still has close to 5 million smokers, most of which indicate they would like to quit. On average smokers attempt to quit 11 times. Vaping is most often pursued by smokers after all other quit aids have failed. Reducing the appeal of vape products will limit adoption by smokers and greatly impact vaping’s efficacy as a harm reduction tool.