The start of 2018 brought the beginning of the FDA’s “Every Try Counts” campaign
The United States Food and Drug Administration has had a mostly tumultuous relationship with vaping over the years. But their latest smoking cessation campaign, while not outright endorsing vaping, does begin to make good on their promise to start viewing different products on a “continuum of risk.” The “Every Try Counts” campaign kicked off this month, encouraging smokers who have unsuccessfully tried to quit before, to keep working.
Instead of focusing on how to quit, the two-year campaign primarily aims to inform smokers of the positive statistics regarding multiple quit attempts. Still falling well short of a recommendation, this new strategy is good for the vaping community, as it paves the way for further acceptance via the continuum of risk. A smoking cessation campaign focused on quit attempts, which acknowledges the value of harm reduction, is excellent news for vaping indeed. This is even more evident once you consider how successful vaping has been at helping smokers quit for good.
E-Cigarettes For Smoking Cessation
With news of the latest smoking cessation campaign from the FDA, it’s worthwhile to remind our readers the evidence is proving e-cigarettes as a valuable tool. By now, most people in the vaping community are well aware of the 2015 Public Health England report that concluded e-cigarettes are at least 95% safer than traditional smoking. Those results have since been supported numerous times, with many studies finding a similar level of risk. Making these findings more impressive though, was a study from late last year published in the Journal Aerosol Sciences that found the Excess Lifetime Cancer Risk of vapers is 57,000 times lower than cigarette smokers. But vaping is not only valuable as a harm reduction tool, but it’s proven to be one of, if not the best, smoking cessation tools we have at our disposal.
In addition to the anecdotal evidence of millions of former smokers who attribute a large portion of their success to vaping, there is a new wave of peer-reviewed evidence that is reaching the same conclusion; Vaping is the best smoking cessation tool we have. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville compared the effectiveness of different smoking cessation methods. These ranged from the absolute basic, cold turkey approach, all the way to prescription quit aids like Chantix. After analyzing the results of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health report, it was vaping that had the highest success rate, soundly beating the next best option, prescription drugs. (27.8% vs. 21.6%) This figure is even more encouraging when accounting for factors such as dual-use (vaping and smoking interchangeably), which has a very negative effect on smoking cessation. Reports have reported the success rate of vaping to be closer to 50%.
It’s not entirely unreasonable to be skeptical of whatever the FDA says in regards to vaping, given their track record. But the current FDA Commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, has taken a few steps in the right direction, primarily with his decision to delay the controversial deeming rules. While discussing the Every Try Counts campaign, he said, “Our aim is to render cigarettes minimally or non-addictive, while encouraging the development of potentially less harmful tobacco products for adults who still want or need access to nicotine.” These comments fall directly in line with his views on the “continuum of risk” for tobacco products, which acknowledges that while all tobacco and vaping products are not 100% risk-free, some are clearly more dangerous, or with drawbacks.
One potential issue with reducing the nicotine level in traditional cigarettes involves the other carcinogenic substances in cigarette smoke. Even though very low nicotine cigarettes (VLNCs) should theoretically reduce the craving for cigarettes, they do nothing to reduce the level of other more dangerous additives in cigarette smoke. So in practice, smokers won’t be receiving the desired hit of nicotine, while still being exposed to all the extra carcinogenic chemicals found in cigarettes. If this proves to be the case with VLNCs, that would only further strengthen the case for vaping as a legitimate smoking cessation tool. Not only do they drastically reduce the exposure to harmful chemicals, but they’re also able to satisfy the smokers cravings.
Even though the Every Try Count Campaign doesn’t endorse vaping by name, the ideals, and changes they propose work in favor of vaping in the long term. Currently one of the most significant problems still facing vaping is the lack of public awareness of the real risks and benefits. A survey by Action on Smoking and Health found that only 13% of adult believed vaping was much safer than smoking, with 26% saying vaping was just as, if not more dangerous.
But the peer-reviewed evidence is building for the safety and effectiveness of vaping as a smoking cessation tool. So campaigns such as this, which do not directly tie vaping with smoking, are a welcomed change. We need our public health officials to take charge and prove to smokers that vaping is well worth trying if they’ve had trouble quitting in the past. That is the only way that vaping will be culturally acceptable enough for it to reach its full potential.
Do you think the Every Try Counts campaign will have the desired effect? Do you think it’s going to be a good thing for vaping ultimately? Do you agree that public health officials should work toward a better understanding of vaping among the general public? Let us know in the comments.
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