Parliament saw yet another step forwards in the acceptance of vaping as a leading form of tobacco harm reduction, this Tuesday, with the official launch of Knowledge Action Change’s (KAC) commissioned “Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction” report. The work was supported by the Foundation for a Smoke Free World.
KAC told POTV: “The UK launch coincided with the inaugural release of the GSTHR website which makes publicly available long-needed insight on the policies that affect the current regulatory status concerning safer nicotine products on a country basis, smoking prevalence and smoking-related mortality, measures of availability and use of safer nicotine products.”
The GSTHR website makes the report available in multiple formats (PDF, ePub and Mobi for e-book readers, and online/HTML), and an interactive section which generates global maps and has individual country profiles. There is also a short summary of the report available with translations in various languages. Although the report will be updated every two years, the website will be updated regularly.
Of all the vape-related uses of the word “epidemic” in 2018, the GSTHR report is one of the few to get it correct when it refers to “the global smoking epidemic.” It states:
- Safer Nicotine Products deliver nicotine with a significant reduction in risk as compared to combusted tobacco products – there is ‘No Fire, No Smoke’
- International evidence shows that these products are safer for the individual smoker, immediate family and bystanders than smoking cigarettes
- The provision of safer ways of delivering nicotine enables people to continue using nicotine but to avoid the health risks of smoking
- ‘Quit or Die’ is no longer the only option for those who cannot give up nicotine. SNP - including e-cigarettes, heat-not-burn products and Swedish snus offer another way – ‘Quit or Try’
- The rapid rise in the use of SNP has been driven by consumer demand often in the face of public health or government opposition
- Flawed science, misleading public information and sensational media reporting are all sowing seeds of doubt about SNP among consumers, politicians and the general public
- Banning these products, or subjecting them to onerous regulation or high taxation effectively deny access to potentially lifesaving products
- SNP could not only effect a global revolution in public health but also at no cost to governments
The full report runs to 128 pages and is the first time the global, regional and national availability and use of safer nicotine products, the regulatory responses to these products, and the public health potential of tobacco harm reduction have all been mapped.
“The information has been collated and analysed from several national and international academic, business intelligence, regulatory and public data sources with sections informed and validated by key informants.”
The report contains advice that many wish would become accepted by media outlets when reporting on new research. Unequivocally, it says there are no circumstances in which it is safer to smoke than to vape or use other safer nicotine products. As shown on an image below, there is a continuum of risk when using nicotine products. It is clear that vaping is far safer than continuing to use tobacco products.
Data demonstrates that people who switch from smoking to vaping can experience an improvement in health, and that taking up vaping works as a smoking cessation tool. Also, following over ten years of use: “There are currently no known long-term adverse health effects of vaping or snus.”
Other key facts include:
- Young people will experiment with e-cigarettes
- There is no evidence that this experimentation leads to regular smoking
- Smoking rates among young people are falling
- There is no evidence for adverse effects from passive vaping
- There is no evidence for risk to bystanders
- There are no known short or long-term adverse effects from using nicotine
- Being ‘dependent’ on nicotine of itself is not a health risk
“In only a few years there has been rapid uptake in the use of the newer safer nicotine products in many countries while in both Sweden and Norway snus has replaced smoking over a relatively short space of time. In Japan the uptake of heat-not-burn products has seen the biggest ever drop in cigarette sales. This indicates an appetite for safer nicotine products such that where they are available – and if they are attractive and suitable alternatives to smoking – many smokers will choose them over smoking.”
The new website is more than just a static document store. The interactive sections will be regularly updated when national legislation changes. For example, vaping travellers can quickly see at a glance if a country allows the sale of nicotine-containing vape products, the legal status of selling devices, and if there is a restriction on vaping.
GSTHR website - https://gsthr.org/
The report – Executive summary
The report - Full