A friend who used vaping to quit smoking said he could not believe that clinical exerts and legislators refuse to accept vaping helps thousands of people to quit smoking.
His frustration is built on the fact that, despite being heavily regulated, Ireland continues to ignore the help vaping offers smokers. One excuse given for the official rejection is that there is no long-term data available.
He also finds it very concerning that officials continue to lump vaping into the same category as tobacco smoking, when vaping is clearly not smoking.
He is right to be annoyed. If the world demanded long-term data in order to accept the new vaccines for COVID 19, millions of people would die waiting.
While more people are dying from smoking than from COVID 19, vaping can, and is, contributing to saving lives. 66% more effective in helping people quit smoking and to date over 200,000 people in Ireland are off cigarettes thanks to vaping.
It would appear that the ‘old guard’ medical experts and legislators are stuck in a time warp. They are reluctant to accept that vaping is more successful that many of the current range of gums, patches and sprays.
We need leaders in this area to take on board the experiences of vapers, who can show how they successfully quit smoking by switching to vaping, which is 95% safer than tobacco smoking.
Many countries around the world have taken this approach. Canada, UK and New Zealand initially were concerned about vaping when it came on the market first. Today the legislators in these countries accept that vaping has a role to play in improving the public health of their countries and reducing the number of people addicted to tobacco smoking.
50 scientists working with Public Health England, one of the world’s leading health bodies, have carried out 423 studies on vaping over the past 8 years. They found that vaping was at least 95% less harmful than smoking. This has not been disputed by experts throughout the world.
In the UK vaping is endorsed as a less harmful option to smoking and the relevant health bodies including Cancer UK, ASH UK and the NHS endorsing vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking cigarettes.
Yet in Ireland the ‘old guard’ hides behind its mantra of ‘We do not know the long-term effects of vaping’. We know that vaping is 95% less harmful than tobacco. We know 200,000 people have quit smoking thanks to vaping.
We know vaping stops people smoking rather than starting them on the road to tobacco addiction. How long do we have to wait to accept these facts. How many more people will fail to quit smoking and suffer the long-term effects of tobacco addiction?
Some time ago, Sir Kevin Barron Labour MP, cited in the House of Parliament the difference between Ireland, with its hard line on vaping and the UK, where the government and medical establishment have been far more supportive.
He said that in the six years since UK and Irish policies started to diverge, the smoking rate in Ireland remained unchanged, whereas in the UK it has fallen from 19.6% in 2012 to 15.8% in 2016, a record rate and the lowest on record.
That’s the difference between innovative approaches to new concepts, compared to the ‘old guard’ approach in Ireland. Lives have been saved and we could be saving many more.
If you doubt these facts, have a look at this report: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmsctech/505/505.pdf. It finds that, while the results in the UK are huge, they are in the frame of mind to keep pushing for smokers to swap to vaping. The report states many more improvements they could be doing to save more lives.
Bearing this in mind, let’s look at the Government’s Tobacco Free Ireland (TFI) campaign. It sets out to cut our smoking rate to 5% by 2025. However, it is predicted that, based on current policies, if tobacco control policies remain unchanged in Ireland, TFI will fail to hit the target of 5% in five years’ time. Based on current trends and the reluctance to embrace new innovations, we believe this target will not be met till 2052.
Modern, innovative experts can see that vaping has the potential to play a huge part in moving the percentage closer. By leaving it in the hands of the ‘old guard’, the best TFI can hope for is 12.4%.
Life is about managing risks. If we all decided to stop prescribing medicines because they carry a risk, or take aircraft out of the sky because they might crash or develop a COVID 19 vaccine in 6 months because there is no long-term data, the world would be a sad place.
Another pal of mine who used vaping to quit smoking 30 cigarettes a day, told me that when he was smoking, he had to get three antibiotics a year to clear up chest infections. Since he started vaping, six years ago, he has not had one chest infection
In managing risk, we need to put safety procedures in place, like the 2016 regulations on vaping products. We also need to ban the sale of vaping products to anybody under the age of 18 years of age.
If we can use innovation to save people from COVID 19, we can accept that vaping is helping people quit smoking. Waiting while 6,000 people die yearly from smoke related illnesses is not an option. Legislators and experts need to start listening to people who vape. They need to look at the full picture and get moving on saving lives.