Dr. Alex Wodak Addresses the Health Debate over Vaping in Op-Ed for The Guardian

No Smoke, No Fire

The British newspaper The Guardian published an op-ed on Sunday by Dr. Alex Wodak, in which he argued for a reframing of the health debate over vaping and e-cigarettes.

Dr. Wodak is a well-known harm reduction advocate and president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation. He was an early proponent of needle exchange programs and supervised injection facilities for IV drug users.

Calling for an end to arguments over tobacco industry involvement in the e-cig business, and their unproven potential as a gateway to smoking, Wodak argues that three simple questions must define whether e-cigs are beneficial to public health.

“First, do [e-cigs] achieve their objectives – in other words, are they effective? Second, are they safe? Specifically, do they have some serious unintended negative consequences? Third, are they cost effective?”

He goes on to note that the evidence indicates that all three questions can be answered with at least a qualified yes.

As popular opinion in most western countries turns against the “drug war” — the treatment of drug dependence and use as a criminal problem — harm reduction advocates like Dr. Wodak gain influence in the medical and political worlds.

Having that influence applied in favor of e-cigs and low-risk nicotine products can be a huge benefit to the vaping community.

(You can follow Dr. Wodak on Twitter @AlexWodak )

Jim McDonald
I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.
  • Gordon Taylor

    Just what i feel as i’v said on other pages Some one who accepts vaping may help you quit smoking and be beneficial now there’s some common sense and a real nice change smile emoticon . Getting so used to the Same old thing! Poor recherché getting all the headlines Just how the Government and Tobacco industry want it. They have no interest in doing a full scale independent investigation in to Vaping. They already know the answers they just not the one’s they want. All they want is a) To maintain all The revenue and support they get from the tobacco industry. b) Find a way that would enable them to get control of the Vaping industry and Tax that to hell. c) They are quite content/prefer to let everyone smoke themselves in to an early grave , Despite what they try to say about the cost of treating smoking related illness being more than the Tax raised, The numbers don’t stack up. This is even more added to by the vast sum’s they stand to loose on pension and eldly care if we all live longer. It has always been from the start about Money,Power and who can control it. I was a long time smoker (decades) and tryied everything to quit including the tablet’s from the Doc’s that so many side affect’s including depression. It was not untill i started Vaping i quit and for the first time not only do i not even feel like another cig in just week’s my lung capacity has doubled. So would like to know from these so called expert’s what is better for me 40 plus cig’s a day or vaping. Think of all the Tax duty they loosing just off me “That brings a smile to my face”

    • Jim McDonald

      Thanks for the comment! Dr. Wodak’s common sense understanding of the issue reflects growing interest from many with a harm reduction-based approach to public health. These are people who will support vaping based on it’s relative safety. Our mission (or, at least, one of our missions) is to get them interested enough to comment. Most, like Wodak, are primarily interested in drug policy. But if we can attract their attention, they can only be a help to our cause.

      • Gordon Taylor

        Agreed! and look forward to seeing it, Just seem’s to me That the Government Did what they always do Jump right in with a knee jerk reaction based on bad advice and poor recherché. People are not stupid and everyone would agree there maybe some risk’s in vaping as there is risk,s in everything we do or use, But using my self as an example 40 plus a day or vaping, just putting a list of the chemical ingredients and their interactions smoking an average cigarette compared to an average e-juice make’s for some scary reading and not hard to work out what is best for me. Even on my tight budget you can still vape safley and the majority of the vaping industry has for years brought in it’s own regulations on the control of chemicals used in production yet they have little or no recognition for it. None of the anti vaping side even come close to answering my question to them. Unless They Answer what to me seem to be some quite simple common sense questions, then i would still feel that my reason’s they do not as i stated above still apply. Not highly educated and dyslexic But worked hard and paid tax for in excess of 35 years. and if you knew how long it took me to write this you would laugh,But far fro stupid and know a white wash when i see it. 🙂

        • Jim McDonald

          I agree on the risks. They’re there, but much lower than the risks of smoking. The reasons many deny the benefits and exaggerate the risks are many. The more vapers learn, and the more vapers there are, the harder it will be for our opponents to mislead the public.

          Thanks so much for your excellent responses!

          • Gordon Taylor

            Agreed Jim Just so frustrating that they at the moment have the power to walk over everyone and push thing’s through, once in place it is so much harder to make them repeal law’s, I also find it so frustrating if you make an educated guess at how many people are vaping, compared to how many have given their support to fighting this despite the cost to us al in the end it seem’s to fall way short.

          • Jim McDonald

            You’re right, but the more vapers there are, the more who’ll get involved. (And most political efforts are led by a tiny fraction of the stakeholders anyway.)

          • Gordon Taylor

            True! And look forward to the day and there is more positive research all the time and the more we share it around the better

          • Jim McDonald