International anti-smoking campaigners' ten messages on e-cigarettes

London-based Vape Lab employee Leonardo Verzaro uses an e-cigarette while working. The British Department of Health ...
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London-based Vape Lab employee Leonardo Verzaro uses an e-cigarette while working. The British Department of Health decided in 2014 not to ban vaping in enclosed spaces.

The e-cigarette industry has begged the Government not to stifle its growth, but its calls for light regulation are not as blunt as the advice of two world-renowned anti-smoking campaigners.

Briton Clive Bates and Canadian David Sweanor make the case for regulating e-cigarettes almost as lightly as coffee in their submission to a Ministry of Health review into legalising e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are devices which deliver users with nicotine-laced vapour, not cancer-causing smoke, offering the potential for big public health gains.

That would make it unethical for the Government to hinder their sale by taxing them like conventional cigarettes, or banning e-cigarette advertising, Bates and Sweanor said.

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ON LEGALISING E-CIGARETTES...

"It would be unethical to deny a smoker access to products that are much safer than the dominant product on the market, cigarettes," Bates and Sweanor wrote. "Outside the field of tobacco and illicit drugs, there are no precedents for banning safer alternatives to widely used products."

ON SAFETY...

"Smokers who switch to electronic nicotine delivery systems are likely to avoid 95 per cent of the major smoking-related risks for cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illness, and probably substantially more than that."

ON HUMANITY...

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Legalising e-cigarettes, and not taxing them like cigarettes, was a more humane form of tobacco-harm reduction than hiking the excise tax on cigarettes, which hurts poor families which contain smokers. "This is particularly important where smoking is concentrated at high levels in poorer communities, such as the Maoris."

ON "GATEWAY" FEARS...

Fears that e-cigarettes could prove a gateway product from which young vapers transition to smoking were groundless. "There is no credible evidence to suggest that electronic nicotine delivery systems undermine tobacco control, induce young people to smoke, or reduce the rate that adults quit smoking".

ON SCAREMONGERING...

"Misrepresentation of scientific findings by some academics and the media have combined to exaggerate risks by understate the benefits of e-cigarettes."

ON AGE RESTRICTIONS...

Bates and Sweanor warned against assuming an age 18 limit on the purchase of e-cigarettes was a good idea. Smokers generally became addicted before the age of 18, so limiting e-cigarette availability to teens might result in continued high levels of youth smoking. "This measure is probably necessary, but only as a compromise to secure public consent for a changed approach."

ON ADVERTISING...

The pair opposed a cigarette-style advertising ban on e-cigarettes, which could limit their uptake. "It is best to think of e-cigarette advertising as 'anti-smoking'."

ON PUBLIC VAPING...

"It is quite possible that banning vaping in public places or severely restricting it would have adverse effects on health." It would stifle the normalisation of e-cigarettes, and equate them in the mind of the public with conventional cigarettes. "It would be like extending drink-driving laws to coffee- the public would inevitably draw false conclusions about coffee."

ON E-LIQUID FLAVOURS...

Banning, or limiting flavoured e-liquids to make them less attractive to young people would be an error. "Many former smokers report switching to non-tobacco flavours as a way of moving permanently away from smoking. There is a risk that loss of broad flavour categories will cause relapse among e-cigarette users, fewer smokers switching, and emergence of DIY and black market flavours."

ON INNOVATION...

Regulations should not stymie new nicotine delivery technologies. "New Zealand should take the opportunity to develop a coherent regulatory framework that accommodates all recreational nicotine products that do not involve the combustion of tobacco. This includes all forms of smokeless tobacco, heated tobacco products, lozenges, inhalers, dissolvable films, etc."

 - Stuff

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