Time Will Increase Praise For Vaping

The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction, a project funded by UK-based public health agency Knowledge Action Change, has written about how history will view electronic cigarettes. In the report “The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction 2022: The Right Side of History”, the authors chart the history of tobacco harm reduction and consider how e-cigarettes can bring about the end of tobacco use.

quitting smokingThe Right Side of History looks at how nicotine use has changed dramatically over the last twenty years. Not only has there been a fundamental shift to electronic devices but the rise of vaping has also impacted on how tobacco companies function and the advice that public health experts deliver.

The report’s authors point out that, prior to vaping taking off, the World Health Organisation has spent billions of pounds on anti-smoking measures but levels remained stalled at 1.1bn people.

Harry Shapiro, author of The Right Side of History, said: “Technology helped smoking become one of the world’s biggest health problems. Now, technological innovations from beyond both the tobacco industry and public health have combined to produce safer nicotine products, and millions of people who smoked have already chosen to switch. Yet progress is being hampered. Although disruption is not always comfortable, the genie is out of the bottle – these new technologies demand the development of new policies and new thinking.”

The Right Side of History explores the development of vaping as part of a tobacco harm reduction approach, “an evidence-based public health intervention grounded in human rights that reduces health risks by giving people safer alternative products or encouraging less risky actions, not by banning products or actions, developed in the 1980s as part of the response to HIV/AIDS”.

Professor Gerry Stimson, GSTHR Project Lead, Emeritus Professor, Imperial College London, said: “A failure to recognise and exploit the potential of tobacco harm reduction will mean millions more avoidable deaths each year, and contribute to an ever-growing burden of disease that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable countries and communities. Tobacco control’s lack of evolution, despite its very limited gains, means that many aspirational targets to achieve smoke-free status by 2030 or within the next generation are no more likely to be met than former aspirations for a drug-free world. Tobacco harm reduction offers us an historic opportunity. We must not let it slip away.”

The Right Side of History argues that to achieve the greatest public health gains, and ensure no one is left behind, everyone who smokes should have the right to access lower risk products. Despite including harm reduction in the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the WHO is still to include support for vaping in its international and national tobacco control efforts.

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