“As far as we’re aware, there is no good evidence demonstrating that using e-cigarettes will reduce the incidence of smoking normal tobacco cigarettes,” says Letitia O’Dwyer, Chief Executive of the ARFNZ. A statement that will most certainly shock many public health and anti-smoking experts, who have not only cited a significant number of peer reviewed studies that indicate the exact contrary, but also statistics that show a significant drop in smoking rates, wherever the products have been endorsed as cessation tools.
The press release which was published two days ago, said that if the Government insists on endorsing these products for smoking cessation, then they should be classified as therapeutic devices and regulated via the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Medsafe and PHARMAC.
“There is no evidence for a public health claim for an unregulated approach to e-cigarettes and personal vaporizers. ARFNZ recommends that if there is support for e-cigarette use in New Zealand as a smoking cessation device, then these products should be classified as therapeutic devices and regulated through Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Medsafe and PHARMAC. If not intended as part of a smoking cessation plan then e-cigarettes should have the same restricted sale and accessibility placed on them as conventional cigarettes e.g. prohibit sale and supply in public places, not sold to under 18 year olds and no point of sale advertising of e-cigarettes and e-liquids,” read the ARFNZ official position statement.
Data correlating an increase in vaping to a decrease in smoking
In line with what Dawkins said, a number of studies have already indicated that the devices are smokers’ preferred smoking cessation tools. This is due to the fact that the hand to mouth motion required to vape, closely imitates the action of smoking, making the transition from smoking to not-smoking a smoother one for addicts.
Additionally, an observational study conducted by the University College London and published on BMJ last year, indicated a correlation between the increase in e-cigarette use, and smoking cessation rates in the UK, with an estimated drop of about 18,000 smokers in a year. “Although these numbers are relatively small, they are clinically significant because of the huge health gains from stopping smoking,” said the study authors.