Vaping is one of the most effective tools to help smokers quit and it has been endorsed by health authorities in the UK, France, Canada and New Zealand. Millions more could switch from smoking to vaping if more progressive regulations were put in place in other countries. The positive effect on public health would be enormous.
We examined data from 61 countries worldwide and assessed how smart tobacco harm reduction policies could make switching easier, and save lives. The United Kingdom’s progressive tobacco harm reduction policies are used as a reference point.
Nearly 200 million smokers worldwide (19 million in Europe alone) could switch to vaping, an alternative that is 95% less harmful, if governments adopted regulations that facilitate and encourage vaping as a means to quit smoking. What are they waiting for?
In the UK, Public Health England, an agency of the Ministry of Health, is actively recommending smokers to switch to e-cigarettes. Due to these policies, the UK has been more successful in reducing smoking when compared to more restrictive countries. In the UK, approximately 25% fewer people smoke today than in 2013, when vaping became popular. Meanwhile, in Australia, one of the countries with the punitive regulations on vaping, there were only 8% fewer smokers in the same timeframe. France, Canada and New Zealand followed an approach similar to the UK and are seeing positive results.
We must rethink the current approach towards vaping and see it as an opportunity for public health improvement and saving lives. Hundreds of millions of lives can and should be saved! Governments: what are you waiting for?