Recent studies in the UK are showing that there’s really no comparison between traditional tobacco products, which have killed millions of people, and new vaping and e-cigarette products that have the potential to save lives.
Independent reviews from Public Health England are now coming out that show e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes. However, the study also shows a knowledge gap where up to half of survey respondents don’t really understand the difference.
Help or Harm
In the past, many national governments have been slow to figure out regulation for e-cigarettes, and slow to realize that these products can be effective in smoking cessation. There’s been a kind of drag on the process, as regulators worry about what health risks are still possible with e-cigarette wares. But now, new studies are revealing that the possible health benefits of e-cigarettes are being overlooked. To put it one way, while there may be extremely rare or minor types of side effects with these products, in many cases, their utility for eliminating traditional tobacco far outweighs any risks.
In discussing the new studies, UK regulators admit that in the past, the e-cigarette industry has suffered from these new products being banned in a number public spaces. However, government parties have upheld the ban on acquisition by minors, because traditionally, minors aren’t supposed to be able to get hold of any tobacco products. There’s more of a burden to protect those under the age of emancipation from new products that could be less than 100% safe.
That doesn’t mean that these products should have a blanket cast over them that ties them to regulation for traditional tobacco. For example, inquiries indicate that e-cigarettes are not a pathway to traditional tobacco smoking, and that using them can have a positive effect on group health outcomes long-term. To that effect, governments have to struggle with issues like whether to allow companies to give away promotional e-cigarette packages.
There’s also another issue in the UK that has to do with how that country administrates its healthcare market. Regulators are still facing questions of whether or not e-cigarettes should be allowed to have a place in the National Health System or NHS. Allowing these products into the NHS would deliver a final ruling on their relative health or harm. It’s a kind of government stamp on the issue one way or the other.
A Guardian article shows Ecita, a e-cigarette trade association, talking about the potential benefits to the NHS and whether public health campaigns would favor the promotion of e-cigarette products.
All of this happens at a time when the e-cigarette industry is truly at a crossroads. In the UK and elsewhere, public health advocates are taking another hard look at whether or not to promote the use of e-cigarettes solely as an anti-smoking resource. In the meantime, shops are dealing with high demand for these products as individuals start to understand how they can improve their own health outcomes and improve their quality of life. Look for more as the e-cigarette industry continues to emerge, and products deliver more of the benefits with less of the risk.