Federal health regulators and tobacco control zealots continue to batter electronic cigarettes as harmful products, but even The New York Times is admitting the devices can be a life saver for smokers.
Lifelong smokers who transition to vaping can add years their lives and, “ward off many of the debilitating effects of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic disorders,” says a story from The New York Times published Friday. It notes smoking rates have fallen consistently in most age groups, including with youths, despite fears e-cigarettes are introducing a new generation to tobacco.
Declines in the smoking rate for Americans 65 and older have slowed drastically however, meaning there are millions of older smokers who are still putting their health in jeopardy. Vaping may be the answer for these smokers, who still find the low-success cessation methods approved by U.S. health bodies ineffective, according to The New York Times.
“Any smoker, especially an older smoker, who isn’t thinking about switching is doing himself a major disservice,” David Abrams, a clinical psychologist at New York University specializing in nicotine and tobacco research, told the NYT.
Additional experts that spoke to the NYT shared similarly positive sentiments about the role of vaping in reducing smoking rates, including Dr. Steven Schroeder, director of the Smoking Cessation Leadership Center at the University of California, San Francisco, who says vapor products are “clearly less harmful” than combustible tobacco. (RELATED: ‘Deception’ Over The Risks Of Smoking Alternatives Violates ‘Public Health Ethics’)
Vaping eliminates up to 95 percent of the risk associated with cigarettes because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are released through combustion, according to Public Health England, an arm of the U.K.’s Department of Health.
The article profiles Jeannie Cox, a two pack-a-day smoker since her teenage years who is now in her 70s. She has not picked up a cigarette in four years and four months since transitioning to a vaping device. Cox says she never even intended to quit combustible cigarettes, despite developing adverse health conditions including a nighttime cough, but ended up buying a device to use while staying with her children during some cold weather.
“I’m not quitting smoking, I’m just trying this newfangled thing,” Cox said she told herself at the time, according to the NYT. “Three days later, I realized I hadn’t smoked a cigarette in three days. I thought, ‘This is working out kind of nice. Quitting is not supposed to be this easy.'”
The article says the success of Cox and millions of others is, “what researchers disdainfully call ‘anecdotal evidence,'” noting the position of health bodies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that claim there is no evidence e-cigarettes are useful tools for smoking cessation.
A University of California study released July 26, however, shows a record number of Americans are ditching cigarettes with the aid of vaping devices. 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, hardly anecdotal. There are currently 2.62 million former smokers who transitioned to vaping devices in the U.S. A growing body of medical evidence also demonstrates that vaping is not a threat to general public health.
Scientists at the University of Catania in Italy recently completed a three-year study investigating the effects of regular vaping on the body of the user, finding “no evidence of health concerns associated with long-term use of e-cigarettes” on blood pressure, heart rate, body weight, lung function, respiratory symptoms, exhaled breath nitric oxide or exhaled carbon monoxide.
Recent research also shows vapor from e-cigarettes does not pose any meaningful secondhand risks. A forthcoming study investigating the health impact of aerosol vapor emitted from the devices shows that chemical levels in the vapor released from e-cigarettes are well below the safety limits suggested by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.
Longtime smokers who make the switch say they actually feel their health improve overtime, enhancing their overall quality of life. Cox told the NYT after ditching her two-pack a day habit for vaping, “I could breathe easier. I was no longer coughing. I could sleep longer. I got happier.”
State and local governments throughout the country, however, continue to try to restrict alternative smoking products, relying on dated statistics or predetermined narratives about their alleged dangers while ignoring positive research.
Advocates of smoking alternatives say alarmism over vaping misses the larger point about e-cigarettes; namely, that they are a harm reduction tool helping millions of smokers quit across the country.
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