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 millions of 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, which the ACCC outlawed from 2005 being a consumer fraud.
Along the way we saw reduced carcinogen brands and even asbestos filtered cigarettes.
There was clearly massive publicity about harm reduction from filters and low tar, and massive consumer uptake, although not a blip in the incidence of tobacco caused disease in those who still smoked.
Due to harm-reduction arguments, countless smokers continued smoking who might otherwise have quit. The tobacco industry drove these arguments and was backed up by many in public areas health who innocently thought these were no-brainers. Nigel Gray, a giant 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 all the core policies of attempting to prevent uptake, encourage quit attempts and denormalise smoking via smoke-free policies to guard non-smokers. Together, these objectives have delivered Australia the best smoking prevalence on the planet.
For 35 years because the early 1980s, we have now 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 some, Australia has developed into a world leader in reducing smoking with no mass cessation clinic network or major embrace of electronic cigarette consumer reviews.
Today, demands are now being made to rush in soft-touch regulation to permit e-cigarettes to be manufactured, flavoured, promoted and used virtually without restriction.
This really is all being carried out on the shoulders of the argument that insists that after 50 years of tobacco control, there remain many smokers who can’t or don’t want to quit their nicotine dependence, which in just a few years, sufficient evidence has already accumulated to exhibit that e-cigarettes are generally benign and ideal for cessation.
But the “can’t quit” argument has gotten remarkably little critical interrogation. We know that hundreds of millions of often heavily dependent smokers have quit since the early 1960s, most with no assistance in any way.
We know that today’s smokers smoke fewer cigarettes each day than anytime in the past, precisely the complete opposite of exactly what the hardening hypothesis would predict.
The needs in the “we don’t want to quit/we like nicotine” vaping activists for unregulated access to e-cigarettes and also to use them without restrictions must be balanced up against the hazards of what these demands might mean izzert population-wide progress toward the aim of keeping smoking heading south.
Comprehensive tobacco control is not only about the preferences of vapers. It is actually most importantly about continuing to starve the tobacco industry of brand new recruits and make certain that smoking is created history.
Whenever we consider e-cigarettes as being a transformative genie in a bottle, we need to think very carefully before allowing it to out, because putting genies back in their bottles is much more difficult than impulsively letting them out. When they end up being benevolent, all’s good. However, if they bring false hopes while keeping many people smoking, we might be looking at the early days of the third major false god of tobacco harm reduction.