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The EU should endorse vaping

Vaping is safe, and the EU must give it a chance

Both the EU Beating Cancer Plan and Dutch vape flavour ban - expected to enter into force on 1 July 2022 - fail to see the important role vaping plays in helping smokers quit....

Vaping is safe, and the EU must give it a chance

Such an approach doesn’t stand up to scrutiny and does nothing to reduce the smoking rates and beat cancer. The longer Europe continues to ignore an emerging plethora of studies on vaping and its lifesaving properties, the more lives will be lost.

Nearly 700,000 Europeans die every year as a result of smoking-induced cancer. Unless the EU recognises the benefits of vaping, these numbers will likely persist, depriving future generations of tobacco-free saved years of life. Anti-vaping policies are anti-human rights because they knowingly endanger the lives of smokers by limiting their access to an effective harm reduction tool.

The distrust for vaping is often mistakenly associated with an increased probability of cancer and heart attacks. However, the cancer risk of vaping relative to smoking is only 0.4 per cent, according to a study conducted by the University of St. Andrews. The additional lifetime cancer risk for an e-cigarette user is 0,0095 per cent, compared to 2.4 per cent of a smoker found by the same study. 

Heart attack risks have also been linked to e-cigarettes, to refute their effectiveness. A recent paper published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded that such claims are unjustified, and that “contrary to concerns that the harms associated with e-cigarettes are only now emerging after more years of possible product use, the only evidence of time-dependent variation in the association between e-cigarette use and myocardial infarction ran counter to this possibility.”

Although noble in intent, vaping scepticism unfortunately leads to policies that do little to tackle smoking rates. The European Union has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to achieving a tobacco-free generation, a goal that couldn’t be more timely given the high prevalence of smoking in Europe. However, by banning vape flavours as well as marketing and promotion of vaping, the EU is falling prey to ideology-driven as opposed to science-based solutions.

Let us, for example, consider vape flavours. A research paper, recently published by the Consumer Choice Center, found that banning flavours would have a profoundly negative effect on society, pushing smokers back to cigarettes or the dangerous black market. Two-thirds of current vapers are using some form of flavoured liquids. Vapers prefer non-tobacco flavours over tobacco flavoured e-cigarettes, mainly because flavours don’t remind them of the taste of cigarettes.

A 2020 study conducted by Yale concluded that vapers who use flavours are 2.3 times more likely to quit smoking than those using tobacco-flavoured e-cigarettes. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that restrictions and bans on flavours will significantly limit the usefulness of vaping as a cessation tool and will drive vapers back to cigarettes. For example, in the Netherlands,  3.1 per cent of adults use e-cigarettes, and, with the ban in place, nearly 250,000 Dutch vapers might return to smoking.

Vaping is an innovative solution to the pressing problem of smoking-induced deaths and, generally, various health issues. The tobacco-abstinence approach pursued by the EU hasn’t borne any fruit to date, and so there is little hope that it ever will. In the meantime, innovation has kicked in and is providing smokers with a safe alternative to conventional smoking. If the EU wants to drive down smoking, it should endorse vaping.

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