“Some smokers, despite firm clinician advice, will not attempt to quit smoking cigarettes and will not use FDA approved cessation medications,” says the ACS in a February 15th position statement. “These individuals should be encouraged to switch to the least harmful form of tobacco product possible; switching to the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is preferable to continuing to smoke combustible products.”
During the middle of February, the American Cancer Society evolved their position on vaporizers and recognized the potential benefit of electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid and harm reduction tool. This is an unexpected, although refreshing, turn of events considering the recent discussion surrounding e-cigarettes and their safety. Especially given the vast array of flawed studies and fake news stories about vaping making the rounds on social media.
Evolution of Perspective
The American Cancer Society initially published their “Position Statement on Electronic Cigarettes” to help guide the ACS’s smoking cessation and tobacco control efforts. They had been largely skeptical of vaporizers, refusing to recommend them in any capacity up until this most recent revision. This latest update represents a massive shift in position for one of America’s largest tobacco control lobbying organizations.
In a social and political climate that hasn’t been quite favorable to the vaping community over the last couple of months, this is a very welcomed shift in the discussion surrounding vaporizers. Research riddled with flawed methodology and the sensationalist stories spun off of them have been spreading among the ill-informed public. Thankfully renowned tobacco control experts such as Dr. Carl V. Phillips and Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos and now organizations such as the American Cancer Society have spoken out in favor of vaporizers, recognizing their benefit as a harm reduction tool and smoking cessation aid.
Safer than Cigarettes
While the ACS had not formally changed any policy recommendations, this is a very welcomed first step in the process of getting policymakers to recognize their potential benefit. They accept the reality surrounding smokers in the modern era, understanding that many smokers may not want to use FDA-approved smoking cessation methods, such as nicotine patches or gum, but see vaporizers as a viable alternative to traditional cigarettes.
While not outright stating that vaporizers were harmless, the ACS did recognize that vaporizers were much safer than cigarettes. They also recommend that smokers switch to vaporizers exclusively, as opposed to weaning by simultaneously using both cigarettes and e-cigarettes. The ACS is still far from “pro-vaping,” but they are undoubtedly pro-harm reduction and therefore recognize the massive benefit vaporizers offer in helping people quit smoking. The ACS recommends that clinicians ultimately support the cessation of all tobacco and nicotine products, but admit that a simple switch exclusively to vaping is preferable to continued smoking.
This updated policy is excellent news for users looking to quit smoking and improve their overall health. While more research is needed to understand the full breadth of long terms effects, vaping is clearly a preferable alternative to continued smoking. This is an essential step in the fight for the harm reduction value of e-cigarettes. Improved acceptance makes patients more willing to have honest discussions with physicians in regards to their options for smoking cessation.
This is also great news for the general political and social climate surrounding vaporizers and e-cigarettes. To say it’s been toxic is a bit of an understatement. Vocal anti-vaping activists regularly parrot an array of sensationalized stories and demonizing discourses that have been widely debunked. It’s very welcomed and refreshing when public policy professionals and organizations such as the American Cancer Society stand up and speak out in favor of vaping. These endorsements are vital to breaking the stigma surrounding vaporizers and the vaping community.
Do you believe this type of endorsement is vital to the discussion around vaping? Are you relieved by the ACS changing their stance on vaporizers? What more can we do to help recognize the benefit posed by e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid and harm reduction tool? Feel free to answer any and all of these questions down below in the comments, and connect with us through social media on Facebook and Twitter!