Medicaid is a social health care program for families and individuals with low income and limited resources. SBS state that ecigs have the “potential to dramatically reduce the damaging health impacts of traditional cigarette” in a recent article. They note that the current rate of smoking for those receiving Medicaid is double that of the rest of the population – and treating smoking-related ailments currently costs around the equivalent of £15billion.
They highlight that a lot of confusion stems from the name e-cig. It “is misleading because there is no tobacco in an e-cig, unlike a traditional, combustible cigarette. The vapour is inhaled like a smoke from a cigarette, but does not contain the carcinogens found in tobacco smoke.”
SBS has carried out a rigorous and comprehensive study on the impact of cigarette smoking on Medicaid and analysed what the benefits on the nation would be were vaping adopted as part of a smoking cessation and tobacco harm reduction strategy. They believe that the overall savings, had such a policy been in place back in 2012, to the public purse would have run to the tune of $48billion (over half what it currently costs to run the British NHS annually). The large figure includes indirect costs and benefits such as the increased productivity of a healthier workforce and a reduction in cigarette-related fires.
Vapers believe that the primary reason for the objections to vaping stem from politicians interests in maintaining income from tobacco taxes and the settlements made between Big T and various states. SBS points out that the potential total cost savings are worth 87% more than current tobacco revenue.
The report highlights the possibly huge error politicians may make by ignoring their findings: “Unfortunately, the tantalizing benefits stemming from e-cigs may not come to fruition if artificial barriers slow their adoption among current smokers. These threats range from the Food and Drug Administration regulating e-cigs as a pharmaceutical to states extending their cigarette tax to e-cigs. To be sure, e-cigs are still a new product and should be closely monitored for long-term health effects. However, given the long-term fiscal challenges facing Medicaid, the prospect of large e-cigs cost savings is worth a non-interventionist approach until hard evidence proves otherwise.”
The bulk of pro-vaping activism has focussed on the health benefits to quitting smoking and the efficacy of vaping, the added impetus offered by vast savings in spending will appeal to politicians looking to manage recession-hit economies.
The academic literature the SBS referred to (cited below) strongly suggests that e-cigs hold the promise of dramatic harm reduction due to both the positive impact on smoking cessation and reduced exposure to toxic compounds in cigarette smoke.
The SBS concludes: “Policymakers have long sought to reduce the economic damage due to the negative health impact of smoking. The promise of a relatively safe way to smoke has the potential to yield enormous healthcare savings. The most current academic research verifies the harm reduction potential of e-cigs.”
The research referenced by the SBS study:
- Benowitz, Neal, Eissenberg, Thomas, Etter, Jean-Francois, Hajek, Peter, and McRobbie, Hayden, "Electronic cigarettes: review of use, content, safety, effects on smokers and potential for harm and benefit," Addition, 109, June 2014, pp. 1801-1810.
- Burstyn, Igor, "Peering through the mist: systemic review of what the chemistry of contaminants in electronic cigarettes tells us about health risks," BMC Public Health, 2014.
- Benowitz, Neal, Gawron, Michal, Goniewicz, Maciej Lukasz, Havel, Christopher, Jablonska-Czapla, Magdalena, Jacob, Peyton, Knysak, Jakab, Kosmider, Leon, Kurek, Jolanta, Prokopowicz, Adam, and Sobczak, Andrzej, "Levels of selected carcinogens and toxicants in vapour from electronic cigarettes," Tobacco Control, January 2013.
- Farsalinos, Konstantinos, Kyrzopoulos, Stamatis, Savvopoulou, Maria, Tsiapras, Dimitris, and Voudris, Vassilis, "Acute effects of using an electronic nicotine-delivery device (electronic cigarette) on myocardial function: comparison with the effects of regular cigarettes," BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, 2014.
- Beard, Emma, Brown, Jamie, Kotz, Daniel, Michie, Susan, and West, Robert, "Real-world effectiveness of e-cigarettes when used to aid smoking cessation: a cross-sectional population study," Addition, 109, 2014, pp. 1531-1540.
- Bullen, Christopher, Howe, Colin, Laugesen, Murray, McRobbie, Hayden, Parag, Varsha, Williman, Jonathan, Walker, Natalie, "Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation: a randomized controlled trial," The Lancet, September 7, 2013.
- Caponnetto, Pasquale, Campagna, Davide, Caruso, Massimo, Cibella, Fabio, Morgaria, Jaymin B., Polosa, Riccardo, and Russo, Cristina, "Efficiency and Safety of an electronic cigarette (ECLAT) as Tobacco Cigarettes Substitute: A Prospective 12-Month Randomized Control Design Study," Plos One, Vol. 8, Issue 6, June 2013.
- Farsalinos, Konstantinos E., Kyrzopoulos, Stamatis, Romagna, Giorgio, Tsiapras, Dimitris, Voudris, Vassilis, "Evaluating Nicotine Levels Selection and Patterns of Electronic Cigarette Use in a Group of ‘Vapors' Who Had Achieved Complete Substitution of Smoking," Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, 2013.