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Anti-Tobacco Coalition Says E-Cigarettes Can Succeed Where All Else Has Failed

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Guy Bentley Research Associate, Reason Foundation
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An anti-smoking coalition has reached a consensus on e-cigarettes, concluding they are far safer than tobacco and could help people quit cigarettes where all else has failed.

“E-cigarettes are substantially less harmful than smoking tobacco,” said the Yorkshire and the Humber Tobacco Control Network (YHTCN) statement.

The document was published by Breathe 2025, whose mission is to “see the next generation of children born and raised in a place free from tobacco, where smoking is unusual.”

The network’s statement was issued in support of Public Health England and several major health organizations that agreed e-cigarettes are not in the same league as regular cigarettes in terms of health risks and argue smokers should try vaping to help them quit.

“The most up-to-date evidence indicates that the type of e-cigarette used and the frequency of use has an impact on outcomes, with daily use of refillable tank models giving smokers a better chance of stopping smoking successfully.”

The document contains 15 bullet points explaining the potential benefits of e-cigarettes for reducing harms caused by tobacco while recommending those who have never smoked and those who are below the age of 18 shouldn’t take up vaping.

One of the document’s recommendations is that “stop smoking services should become ‘e-cigarette friendly’ and support people who want to use e-cigarettes to help them quit smoking.”

“Some individuals will have had multiple unsuccessful smoking quit attempts, or are unable or unwilling to use traditional Nicotine Replacement Therapy; e-cigarettes should be suggested as an option for these individuals,” said the network.

In a move that will infuriate anti-e-cigarette campaigners, the group claims pregnant women could benefit from vaping. “If a pregnant woman makes an informed choice to use an e-cigarette and if that helps them to stay smoke-free, they should not be discouraged from doing so.”

The British tobacco control network’s approach differs dramatically from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is contemplating new regulations that could wipe out most of America’s homegrown e-cigarette industry. Numerous public health lobby groups such as the American Lung Association also favor a stricter regulatory environment for e-cigarettes. (RELATED: FDA Regulations Could Wipe Out 99 Percent Of E-Cig Industry)

But according to YHTCN, this would be a lethal mistake. “Treating e-cigarettes in the same manner as tobacco in terms of policies around smoking in public places sends a misleading message to the public that smoking tobacco and using e-cigarettes are equivalent in terms of risk; e-cigarettes are substantially less harmful for users than tobacco cigarettes, with no known health risks to bystanders.”

An independent study for PHE in 2015 found e-cigarettes are 95 percent safer than tobacco and could be a “game-changer” for getting people to quit smoking. (RELATED: Study: E-cigarettes Are 95% Safer Than Tobacco)

The FDA’s rules likely to be implemented in 2016 will require all e-cigarette products released after Feb. 15, 2007, to undergo the costly Pre-Market Tobacco Applications (PMTA) process. The PMTA process for each individual product can run between $2-10 million.

Vaping businesses — which typically sell dozens if not hundreds of these products — will not be able to meet this financial burden – meaning they will have to close their doors – destroying around 99 percent of the e-cigarette market and effectively prohibiting the majority of e-cigarette products.

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