Gateway claims are overstated
Vaping could lead to a massive 21 percent decline in smoking-related death in the generation born after 1997, according to a new study published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research. The study was conducted by an impressive team of respected tobacco control experts, led by David Levy, PhD, a professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.
According to Levy, the study shows that “recent claims by some scientists that e-cigarettes are likely to act as a gateway to the use of tobacco products are overstated.” This study models patterns of use from national data, rather than relying on small local samples like the recent studies from the University of Southern California. He was quoted in a press release from the Georgetown University Medical Center
Vaping will save lives even if some non-smokers start vaping
The study even takes into account some young people who have never smoked adopting vaping, and finds that e-cigs still have a benefit to overall public health. Further, the researchers found that even if e-cigarettes were as much as 25 percent as harmful as smoking, there would still be an overall health gain.
That is big news, considering that most experts, like the Royal College of Physicians, believe that e-cigs are likely to be no more than five percent as harmful as smoking.
“When we consider the plausible positive and negative aspects of e-cigarette use, we find that vaping is likely to have a net positive public health impact.”
“Our study indicates that, considering a broad range of reasonable scenarios, e-cigarettes are likely to reduce cigarette smoking and not lead to offsetting increases in harm from the use of e-cigarettes and more deadly cigarettes,” Levy says. “When we consider the plausible positive and negative aspects of e-cigarette use, we find that vaping is likely to have a net positive public health impact.”
Strict FDA regulations and public health propaganda campaigns don’t help
Levy has concerns about the FDA’s attempt to regulate e-cigarettes in the same manner as combustible tobacco. “The FDA can play an important role in standardizing and making sure there’s limits on potentially toxic chemicals added to e-cigarettes,” Levy told the San Diego Union-Tribune’s science writer Bradley Fikes. But, he cautioned in the Georgetown press release, “Overregulation of e-cigarettes might actually stifle the development and marketing of safer products that could more effectively displace cigarettes.”
Fikes asked Levy about the Chicago Department of Public Health’s “Vaping Truth” campaign, in which e-liquid is called “liquid poison.” “If I were a kid, I would say, I should be smoking instead of e-cigarettes,” said Levy. “And as a citizen, I’m concerned because that’s highly misleading. I think government does play an important role, and when government makes misleading statements like that, we see lack of trust in government.”
The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Cancer Institute and the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network. It was conducted by a team that is a who’s who of international tobacco control experts.
The co-authors of the study, along with Levy, are David Abrams, PhD, Zhe Yuan, MS, and Yian Zhang, MS, from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center; Andrea C. Villanti, PhD, MPH and Raymond Niaura, PhD, from the Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies at Truth Initiative; Ron Borland, PhD, from Cancer Control, Victoria, Australia; Rafael Meza, PhD, from the University of Michigan; Theodore R. Holford, PhD, from Yale University, Geoffrey T. Fong, PhD, from the University of Waterloo and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Canada; and K. Michael Cummings, PhD, MPH, from the Medical University of South Carolina.