A renowned doctor now supports vaping as a smoking cessation tool, but it could ultimately make things worse
It’s been a long held belief of certain groups that vaping is basically the same as smoking in terms of danger. But things may finally be starting to shift, as a renowned doctor, Dr. Laura Jean Bierut recently gave a speech that made a case for vaping to a group of cancer experts. As the research and doctors start to align about how to handle vaping, it’s done little to slow the negative public perception. Vaping and smoking do appear similar in nature to someone who’s never used them. After all, they both typically contain nicotine and using them produces a visible cloud. But this disparity between the perception of vaping and the evidence we have on the topic is a severe problem for the community.
This type of mindset has led to skepticism from important institutions such as the FDA and CDC regarding vaping. Despite this, there is a growing pile of information which indicates the significant harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaporizers. Making the findings all the more important is the continued impact of smoking on the lives of countless individuals. So while the largest institutions still lag behind, individual doctors are starting to come around to the utility of vaping to help trouble smokers finally quit for good.
The Case For Vaping
It was at this year’s annual Perspectives in Thoracic Oncology meeting held in New York City where Dr. Bierut gave her presentation. The Psychiatry professor from Washington University is well known in the academic community for her work with cancer patients. Her talk focused on the potential of vaping as a harm reduction and smoking cessation tool for cancer patients. While she held firm in the belief that outright quitting is the safest thing possible, she finally admitted that vaping represents a legitimate chance for many smokers to end their dependence on smoking once and for all.
She was reluctant to go out on a limb and call vaping the best smoking cessation tool available. But her ultimate feelings on the matter were evident when she said, “switching to e-cigarettes is a reasonable alternative for those who cannot or simply don’t want to quit.” That being said, there is a more significant problem that may be getting reinforced by Dr. Bierut unintentionally. Some worry that by equating vaporizers with alternative forms of tobacco, such as cigars, chew, or hookah shisha, it will ultimately make it much harder to highlight the clear and distinct differences between vaping and smoking.
The Subtle Problem
It remains vital to get respected members of the health community to recognize the value of vaping, so this change of heart from Dr. Bierut is undoubtedly good news for the vaping community. But her choice of words still makes it clear we have a long way to go before we can entirely separate vaporizers from the tobacco industry they were invented to stop. We have a considerable amount of information which indicates vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, but a woefully low number of adults seem to understand this fact. Large-scale polls have found that as little as 13% of respondents think vaping is safer than smoking, while over 26% said vaping is just as bad, if not more dangerous.
Besides, it’s an indisputable fact that vaping and smoking are not the same. Smoking implies combustion which creates a ton of substances proven to harm the body. This is true no matter what is burned. However, this is entirely different from vaping, which bypasses combustion for vaporization. This means no tar is created and inhaled by the user, completely removing one of the worst offenders. The research we have on the differences between smoke and vapor back up this stance. A team out of San Diego State University used devices to track the air quality of homes with different smoking policies. The team concluded that homes which allowed vaping but not smoking had nearly indistinguishable levels of toxicants as the non-smoking homes. Another study, this one published in the Nicotine and Tobacco Research Journal, found that smoke particles are much larger and more stable than vaping particles. This means that while smoke tends to stick around on everything, vaping particles dissolve almost immediately after being exhaled.
It should be taken as a win that another respected expert has decided to support vaping for its harm reduction and smoking cessation benefits. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any downsides. The comments made by Dr. Bierut, while encouraging for vapers, still highlight some of the more subtle issues facing the community, such as the understanding of vaping as merely another form of tobacco use. We must work to improve this understanding if we’re ever to improve the number of individuals who understand how much safer vaping is than smoking. That’s the only way we can gain enough support for vaping to be utilized as the massively successful harm reduction and smoking cessation tool that it is. So we must all work to spread the positive information on vaping to the smokers in our lives.
Do you think it’s crucial vaping is seen as different than smoking? Will the presentation given have the desired impact for the vaping community? What do you think is the best way to educate people about the benefits of vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.