“What the nation needs now is a candid and resolute champion to cross the threshold and deliver a clear message about less harmful tobacco products,” said the experts in an article on The Hill.
Dr. Amy Fairchild, an associate dean of academic affairs at Texas A&M University, School of Public Health, Dr. Ray Niaura, a professor of social and behavioral sciences, New York University College of Global Public Health and Dr. David Abrams, a professor of social and behavioral sciences from New York University College of Global Public Health, believe that although the FDA’s recent announcement is certainly a step in the right direction, the voice of the agency’s commissioner alone, is not enough.
“We’ve opened up a pathway to new product innovations that we think can potentially provide nicotine to people who still want to enjoy satisfying levels of nicotine,” said Dr. Scott Gottlieb in an interview on CNBC last August. Gottlieb had also pointed out that despite the fact smoking rates continue to drop across the US, approximately 480,000 people continue to die per year due to smoking related conditions. Hence, the FDA aims to review the way low risk products such as e-cigarettes are regulated, in order to make it possible for smokers to be able to switch to safer alternatives that could potentially save their life.
The American public still in the dark about e-cigs’ benefits
However, said the public health experts, the majority of Americans still wrongly believe that e-cigarettes are as harmful as their combustible counterparts, and unfortunately campaigns such as the one infamously launched by the previous Surgeon General, added more fuel to the existing fire of confusion.
“The majority of Americans wrongly believe that e-cigarettes are at least as harmful as cigarettes. While nicotine makes it hard to stop smoking, it is the tars, toxins, and carbon monoxide in smoke from the burning of tobacco that are overwhelmingly responsible for the massive burden of death,” said the health experts, adding “ E-cigarettes can help smokers to switch and quit smoking cigarettes. In the U.S., adolescent and adult smoking rates have dropped to record lows since the mid-1960s.”
Fairchild, Niaura and Abrams, referred to the fact a lot of studies now indicate that the products are significantly safer than regular cigarettes, but the American public needs to be made aware of this. Hence why, they believe that a strong public health figure is needed for the job. “America needs a candid smoking control champion — a figure like C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General during the first eight years of the AIDS epidemic — to get out the information that could save millions of smokers’ lives.” they said.
A prominent health figure needed to lead this movement
“It would, at a minimum, involve a leading health official — if not the Surgeon General or the head of the CDC, then a new Health and Human Services Secretary—and the leading tobacco control advocates like the American Cancer Society and the American Public Health Associations making candid statements,” added the health experts.
Fairchild, Niaura, and Abrams pointed out that it has been ten years since e-cigarettes have appeared on the market, and governments and scientists alike, have gathered enough data on the devices to know that they “are safe enough for smokers to switch.” They pointed out that that it is imperative that a harm reduction approach is adopted in order to save the millions of lives that are endangered due to smoking. “Ethics, evidence, and common sense demand it,” they concluded.
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