E-cigarettes are the latest innovation in nicotine delivery products to fly the harm-reduction flag. They follow the massive failures of cigarette filters. Over years, filters falsely reassured millions of smokers that they were reducing their contact with harm and so could keep smoking.
We had the lights and milds fiasco – which saw 80% of Australian smokers select those misleadingly labelled brands, which the ACCC outlawed from 2005 as a consumer fraud.
Along the way we saw reduced carcinogen brands as well as asbestos filtered cigarettes.
There was massive publicity about harm reduction from filters and low tar, and massive consumer uptake, but not a blip inside the incidence of tobacco caused disease in people who still smoked.
Thanks to harm-reduction arguments, countless smokers continued smoking who might otherwise have quit. The tobacco industry drove these arguments and was backed up by many in public areas health who innocently thought these were no-brainers. Nigel Gray, a giant of global tobacco control, later admitted that the decades-long, well-intentioned low-tar harm-reduction policy had been a disaster.
Meanwhile, we continued with the core policies of attempting to stop uptake, encourage quit attempts and denormalise smoking via smoke-free policies to guard non-smokers. Together, these objectives have delivered Australia the cheapest smoking prevalence on the planet.
For 35 years since the early 1980s, we now have seen continually falling incidence rates of tobacco-caused disease. Female lung cancer seems likely to never reach even half the peak we saw in males. Awkwardly for many, Australia has developed into a world leader in lessening smoking without the mass cessation clinic network or major embrace of best electronic cigarette reviews.
Today, demands are now being made to rush in soft-touch regulation to allow e-cigarettes to become manufactured, flavoured, promoted and used virtually without restriction.
This is all being carried out on the shoulders of your argument that insists that after half a century of tobacco control, there remain many smokers who can’t or don’t want to stop their nicotine dependence, and that within a few years, sufficient evidence has already accumulated to show that e-cigarettes are generally benign and great for cessation.
Nevertheless the “can’t quit” argument has brought remarkably little critical interrogation. We realize that countless countless often heavily dependent smokers have quit since the early 1960s, most without any assistance in any way.
We understand that today’s smokers smoke fewer cigarettes per day than whenever you want previously, exactly the opposite of exactly what the hardening hypothesis would predict.
The requirements from the “we don’t wish to quit/we love nicotine” vaping activists for unregulated usage of e-cigarettes and to utilize them without restrictions should be balanced from the risks of what these demands might mean izzert population-wide progress toward the goal of keeping smoking heading south.
Comprehensive tobacco control is not only about the preferences of vapers. It is most significantly about continuing to starve the tobacco industry of new recruits and make certain that smoking is made history.
Whenever we think about e-cigarettes as being a transformative genie in a bottle, we need to think meticulously before allowing it to out, because putting genies in their bottles is more difficult than impulsively allowing them to out. If they turn out to be benevolent, all’s good. But when they bring false hopes while keeping many people smoking, we may be looking at the early days of any third major false god of tobacco harm reduction.