The U.K.’s largest lung charity is softening its language on vaping and backing the devices for smokers, in stark contrast to the prohibitionist stance of U.S. activists.
Sarah Macfadyen, the policy and public affairs manager at the British Lung Foundation, said Wednesday that vaping is key to reducing smoking rates and lowering the risk for lung cancer. Macfadyen said the group wants to clear up misconceptions about the devices that may be keeping smokers from giving vaping a try.
Officials at the British Lung Foundation continue to advise non-smokers against using vaping devices, but acknowledge that research shows they are roughly 95 percent safer than traditional cigarettes. Macfadyen said “vaping is a considerably better option” over smoking and policy makers must “use all the tools at our disposal” to help save lives.
“Health groups like British Lung Foundation are starting to see how vapor products can drive down smoking by giving smokers a much better and far safer alternative,” Clive Bates of Counterfactual, a public interest consultancy and advocacy group, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Meanwhile groups like the American Lung Association are fighting progress and doing all they can to stop the uptake of these products by any means they can, not matter how anti-scientific and unethical.”
Unlike their counterparts in the U.K., the American Lung Association appears to actively discourage smokers from using a vape device to quit. A study from the University of California released July 26 showed that a record number of Americans are ditching cigarettes with the aid of vaping devices.
Officials from the American Lung Association responded to the positive study by stressing that e-cigarettes are potentially dangerous and are not approved as cessation tools by the Food and Drug Administration. Doctors and public health advocates in the U.S. criticized the organization for seemingly encouraging smokers to not vape, even if the FDA-approved patches and gum failed to help them quit.
“Groups like the American Lung Association think they are being tough on tobacco, but all it’s actually doing is protecting the cigarette trade from better and safer products, discouraging people from quitting smoking and causing more lung disease,” Bates told TheDCNF. “They seem to have forgotten what they are there for.”
The University of California study showed the rate of Americans quitting smoking jumped from 4.5 percent between 2010 and 2011 to 5.6 percent between 2014 and 2015. That means roughly 350,000 smokers gave up the habit between 2014 and 2015, which the researchers largely attribute to the rising popularity of vaping.
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