A group of 15 scientists, who specialize in addictions and tobacco research, have released an essay, published by the American Public Health Association, calling for a more balanced approach to regulating vaping. When a group of scientists join forces to advocate for vaping’s potential benefit to public health, governments everywhere should take notice. A revelatory section of their essay focuses on how vaping can increase smoking cessation, which has been proven through several research methods including randomized studies, population studies, and cigarette sales.
The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) has raised concerns surrounding Canada’s current proposed flavour ban and excise tax, on the basis that such regulation would reduce the appeal of vaping and lead to increased smoking rates. The CVA’s concerns have often been dismissed as self-serving, but the release of this document by highly credible tobacco and addictions researchers, should cause regulators to reevaluate the evidence on vaping.
“Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study reported that, in 2018, 15.1% of smokers had quit smoking for 6 months or longer using e-cigarettes, compared with 3.3% using other noncigarette tobacco products and 6.6% using no tobacco products,” said the authors.
The authors cite multiple studies that demonstrate how vaping has been proven to be more effective than Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) and note that “population studies’ findings are consistent with a near doubling of quit attempt success, found in the randomized controlled trials, and the fact that e-cigarettes are smokers’ most used aid in quit attempts.”
They leave no room for uncertainty stating, “smokers unable to quit smoking with evidence-based cessation methods should be well informed about the relative risks of vaping and smoking and vaping’s potential to help them quit smoking.”
The research indicates that cigarettes and vaping products are substitutes for one another, leading to a positive cross-price elasticity of demand that is sensitive to any changes made to the price of the items. The author shares this example: “One study associated a Minnesota e-cigarette tax with increased adult smoking and reduced cessation, estimating that taxing e-cigarettes at the same rate as cigarettes nationwide could deter 2.75 million smokers from quitting smoking over a decade.” The likelihood that current vapers could opt to return to smoking would be a devastating setback for Canada. This price sensitivity has already been seen in Nova Scotia, as many vapers returned to smoking or began purchasing their vaping products through the black market once the flavour ban and taxation was implemented.
Vaping has proven to be an effective harm reduction tool for smokers seeking an alternative to tobacco. Vaping can be an effective quit aid, however, taxes and flavour bans are likely to negate any positive outcome that could be achieved. The dismissal of science by Canadian health authorities depletes the public of accessible and proven tools. Vaping has successfully disrupted tobacco use, by modernizing options for smokers. Through vaping, Canada has seen remarkable reductions in smoking rates that had been stagnate for years.