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August 21, 2019 3 min read

The New York Times is in many quarters, considered the most reputable print outlet in the United States. It is therefore interesting to read an article published in early November discussing the subject of vaping. Lets have a look at what they had to say.

The world leading cause of preventable death is tobacco smoking and it continues to be today. Some 500,000 Americans will die this year due to tobacco smoking and similar number are seen in most developed nations across the globe. The article cited David Abrams, an expert in the field of public policy and tobacco control. Mr. Abrams said

''We may well have missed, or are missing, the greatest opportunity in a century''

Overall the article was quite complimentary with regards to vaping. They acknowledged that the misinformation surrounding vaping was harmful to those who would otherwise benefit from quitting smoking and taking up the safer alternative. A recent study carried out by Georgia State University published a report finding that the percentage of Americans who thought e-cigarettes were as bad as cigarettes or worse than themhad tripled, to 40 percent in 2015 from 13 percent in 2012. 

This is worrying because the director of the Centre For Disease Control (CDC) has also recently stated that

''If smokers have tried everything else, and use an e-cigarette to quit completely, “that’s a good thing''

So why the apprehension from policy makers? 

One of the major concerns often touted is that it may be a new avenue for minors to start taking up the new craze and eventually become addicted to nicotine and possibly cigarettes. There have been studies in the UK which showed that there is no evidence that this is happening. 

Americans tend to value abstinence above all else, an all-or-nothing approach that British advocates see as rooted in the United States’ Puritan culture, said Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health.

“It’s a bit fundamentalist in the U.S.,” Ms. Arnott said, adding that the intense focus on children missed the potential utility of e-cigarettes for current smokers, often some of the poorest and least educated members of society. “What about the smokers? What about the people who are dying now as a result of this habit?”

The UK has taken a different approach, government institutions have embraced the new technology and focused on the positives that it has on the cohort of people who are smoking and will, if nothing is done, suffer the most from their addiction to cigarettes. 

A British antismoking group, have found that half of Britain’s 2.8 million e-cigarette users no longer smoke real cigarettes. Among people who are trying to quit smoking,e-cigarette users are 60 percent more likely to succeed than those who use over-the-counter nicotine therapies like gum and patches, a British study found.

The US and the UK have observed a significant decrease in the number of people smoking since studies began in the 1960's. Sharp declines have been observed in previous years and usually followed an identifiable event such as tax hikes and the like. However the recent declines is greater than those of the past and researchers are beginning to suspect that the popularity of vaping has played a big role in this.

Great so more people vaping and less people smoking - good thing or bad thing?

The New York Times also wrote an article recently where they discussed the results of a UK scientific study which concluded that vaping is 95% safer than smoking cigarettes. You will do well to find a well regarded scientist to dispute this. The negatives of smoking are well documented and have been for a long time, so when you compare vaping and smoking its easy to draw this conclusion. 

It seems that as the evidence rolls in it is becoming harder to ignore. Its understandable that governments may wish to take their time before fully embracing something that is new but the question is now how long is needed and how many people will suffer in the intermediate. 

Read the Full Article Here.