Should the EU embrace vaping as a smoking cessation tool?
It’s estimated that smoking is responsible for 700,000 deaths a year in the European Union. In light of this, e-cigarettes have been growing in popularity in recent years, and are seen as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes. Advocates claim that these products can prevent deaths, are much less harmful, and can help smokers to quit smoking altogether.
According to a study, which was carried out by the University College London last week, smokers who were exposed to vaping socially were 20% more likely to attempt to quit smoking themselves. This study was funded by Cancer Research UK and follows the UK’s positive attitude towards e-cigarettes.
In the Tobacco Control Plan in England, the potential benefits of e-cigarettes has been recognised. It says that e-cigarettes could be used to achieve a smoke-free future, and the UK has committed to making smoking alternatives more available to the public. Public Health England has supported this, saying that e-cigarettes are safer than cigarettes, and they help more smokers to quit altogether.
However, the WHO believes that e-cigarettes should be under strict regulation. The EU as a whole has followed this advice and has been precautious in its approach to vaping. Dr. Lion Shahab, an associate professor at the University College London, believes this is wrong.
Speaking at a summit, he said: “There is historic mistrust toward new products coming into the market but the accumulated evidence when it comes to novel tobacco products shows that the exposure to chemicals is reduced by 95% compared to smoking.”
But, EU policymakers remain skeptical. The Commission said that the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) provides essential safety and quality rules for the EU to follow. There’s still a lack of evidence into the long-term effects of vaping. And although studies have shown them to be less harmful, they are still relatively new, so the health effects are largely unknown.