SRNT Paper’s Lead Author Speaks Out

Posted 24th August 2021 by Dave Cross
Kenneth Warner, dean emeritus and the Avedis Donabedian Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, has spoken out as lead author of the paper (1) written by the fifteen past presidents of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Research (SRNT).

Despite the existence of “considerable evidence” suggesting that vaping is “an effective smoking-cessation tool for adults”, combatting smoking related disease and death, Warner argues that “the potential of vaping to increase smoking cessation has been largely overshadowed by media coverage and policies that focus on the potential risk vaping represents for teens”.

Responding to why the paper needed to be written, Warner said: “In my 45 years in the field of tobacco control research, I’ve never seen an issue that is as divisive as this one; and maybe none that is as important to public health.” (2)

He, and the other authors, believe the paper was needed as there is a lack of balance to the current debate and that there exists a pressing need for public health organisations, the media, and legislators “to recognise that their appropriate but singular desire to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of kids may actually be harming public health.”

Policies oriented exclusively toward protecting kids may be responsible for more adults smoking than would be if we had policies that also emphasised helping adults to quit with vaping, and frankly, if we had honest characterisations of the risks of vaping.

“Exaggerations of the risk have led a majority of Americans, including a majority of smokers, to the erroneous belief that vaping is as dangerous as, or more dangerous than, smoking.”

TMBNotes

Warner states that the whole of society needs to reconsider how it perceives vaping, especially for its role as a quit smoking tool and, while preventing teens taking up vaping is important, “we must increase our focus on adult smokers”.

Vaping’s proven efficiency as a quit tool couldn’t be clearer as far as Warner is concerned: “Multiple types of evidence, identified in our article, demonstrate that vaping can increase smoking cessation. The highly respected Cochrane Review has concluded that it is likely that vaping is more effective than FDA-approved nicotine replacement products like gum and patches. The CDC has also found that more smokers use e-cigarettes than other aids in attempts to quit smoking—and with a higher self-reported success rate.”

Even if vaping introduced teens to smoking, something “that seems unlikely” given the declining smoking rates noted in America and the UK, he pointed out that nicotine addiction is “much smaller than popularly believed”.

He culminates in echoing the paper’s call to reappraise the USA’s stance on e-liquid flavours and taxation of vape products

References:

  1. Balancing Consideration of the Risks and Benefits of E-Cigarettes - https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2021.306416
  2. Current Focus on Preventing Youth Vaping Could Hinder Adults’ Efforts To Stop Smoking - https://sph.umich.edu/news/2021posts/current-focus-on-preventing-youth-vaping-could-hinder-adult-efforts-to-stop-smoking.html


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
Vapable