On Friday, some of the world’s leading health experts came together to discuss the growing electronic cigarette industry. Typically in this scenario, we see a lot of talk about the merits of regulation and unending criticism of ecigs, but this time things were different. The health experts unanimously agreed that vaping could save millions of lives and they claim that regulation would actually do more harm than good.
Respected researcher Konstantinos Farsalinos said his work has uncovered the incredible power of vaping to help smokers kick their addiction to tobacco. After he surveyed 19,500 smokers that tried ecigs, he was astonished to learn that 81 percent of smokers quit using tobacco after they started vaping. “In fact, they quit smoking very easily within the first month of e-cigarette use on average,” he said. “That’s something you don’t see with any other method of smoking cessation.”
Farsalinos wasn’t the only one that had seen firsthand how effective ecigs could be. Professor Jean-Francois Etter from Geneva University said vaping is not just a trend, but a way to help smokers conquer addiction. He believes regulation could actually be harmful in the long run. “E-cigarettes and nicotine and tobacco vaporizers should not be excessively regulated,” he said. Regulations might “decrease the numbers of smokers who switch to those new products.” Furthermore, Etter fears that regulations will do nothing more than empower Big Tobacco to continue their domination and it could force the majority of ecig companies out of business.
Family physician Alan Blum said he recommends that his patients try ecigs when they are struggling to stop smoking. He believes vaping is a much better option for his patients and he would rather hand out ecigs than “give a pharmaceutical product which has side effects and which have not worked very well”.
There is a lot at stake in the ecig debate. Farsalinos estimates that millions of smokers will die without access to life saving vaping technology. “If three percent of smokers switch to e-cigarettes, we are going to save about two million lives in the next 20 years.”
While critics often argue that ecigs are still too new to truly understand their impact on health, the experts disagreed. Etter said they know enough to confidently recommend vaping as a method for smoking cessation. “Alternatives to smoking do not need to be 100 percent safe, they need to be much safer than tobacco cigarettes,” he said. “You choose the lesser of two evils.”
The health experts all agreed that vaping is a smart choice for smokers. So why is the government still pushing for regulations that could squelch industry growth?