Lowering Nicotine in Cigarettes Will Encourage Vaping
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving ahead with plans to slash the amount of “addiction level” nicotine in cigarettes in a bid to get people to stop smoking. It could mean a big boost for vaping, as the reduced nicotine level of cigarettes can be matched by the attractive alternative of e-cigarettes.
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States and right around the world. Here, it’s responsible for more than 480,000 deaths annually, while worldwide, an astonishing 7 million people lose their lives to tobacco every year — nearly a million of them due to the inhalation of secondhand smoke.
The FDA’s decision to drastically limit the amount of nicotine in cigarettes is among wider efforts by countries to try and get people to kick the toxic tobacco habit. In New Zealand, for instance, the authorities have launched an audacious scheme that, if successful, will in a few short years from now see the remote, two-island Pacific nation go almost entirely smoke-free.
“It’s not about banning smoking. It’s about taking action against tobacco so that by 2025, hardly anyone will smoke,” the campaign says.
The New Zealand government notes that the majority of its citizens (85%) already do not smoke, but at the same time, there will always be people who will want to. So its “Smokefree 2025” campaign is not aiming for everyone to give up cigarettes, and it expects that by that date, “fewer than %5 of New Zealanders will be smokers.”
The tiny nation of just 4.7 million people is working on a number of measures to try and drive down tobacco consumption. It says it has especially been increasing among native Maori women, who are among those with the highest lung cancer rates in the world. Efforts underway include reducing the supply of tobacco and the demand for it; protecting children from cigarette advertising; and providing support for those who want to give up smoking.
Deadly Delivery System
For its part, the FDA has recently announced that it is working on a comprehensive regulatory plan that it hopes will “shift the trajectory of tobacco-related disease and death.” The main thrust of its focus is on the way nicotine is delivered and it wants to create awareness that it’s “most harmful when delivered through smoke particles in combustible cigarettes.”
“The overwhelming amount of death and disease attributable to tobacco is caused by addiction to cigarettes — the only legal consumer product that, when used as intended, will kill half of all long-term users,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in unveiling the nicotine-cutting plan for cigarettes.
“Unless we change course, 5.6 million young people alive today will die prematurely later in life from tobacco use. Envisioning a world where cigarettes would no longer create or sustain addiction, and where adults who still need or want nicotine could get it from alternative and less harmful sources, needs to be the cornerstone of our efforts — and we believe it’s vital that we pursue this common ground,” he said.
The FDA’s smoking-busting action plan involves reaching out to the public to create a dialogue about smoking and the harmful effects of the habit. It will also examine the public health benefits of lowering the nicotine level in cigarettes, as well as looking at any adverse effects that might arise as a consequence.
“Because almost 90 percent of adult smokers started smoking before the age of 18 and nearly 2,500 youth smoke their first cigarette every day in the US, lowering nicotine levels could decrease the likelihood that future generations become addicted to cigarettes and allow more currently addicted smokers to quit,” said the FDA.
The (Nicotine) Hit without the Kick
E-cigarettes, which are available online to Americans via a reputable vape shop, contain varying levels of nicotine, and none of the many harmful chemicals released through burning tobacco (among them are hydrogen cyanide, lead, arsenic, and carbon monoxide). Some e-liquids used with e-cigarettes contain no nicotine at all, and people vape them to enjoy the wide range of flavours available, while others can range from 3 mg/ml up to 36mg/ml and more.
These moves by the US, New Zealand and others are mirrored by events underway in the United Kingdom. There, leading doctors from the Royal Society of Medicine are meeting later this month to thrash out ways to get people to stop smoking, in an event called “Winning the End-Game Against Tobacco.”
“The purpose of this meeting is to explore the strategies that will enable the countries of the United Kingdom to become tobacco-free. It will look at the opportunities that arise from legislation, health education, treatments supporting smoking cessation and the contribution of advocacy,” the organisers said.
While smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in the UK, just like most other countries, health chiefs are pleased that the tobacco trajectory has been on a steep decline in recent years. This is at least the case for young adults — falling 26% to 19% in six years — and it may be in part due to the growing popularity of e-cigarettes as a far healthier alternative.
Discovering the Health Benefits of Vaping
That assertion is backed up by recent and major studies on vaping by some of the leading health organisations in the UK. One, by the Royal College of Physicians, found that e-cigarettes were “likely to be beneficial to UK public health” and should therefore be “widely promoted as a substitute for smoking. Rebuffing claims that young people might start vaping and then take up smoking, the study said: “E-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking — in the UK, use of e-cigarettes is limited almost entirely to those who are already using, or have used, tobacco.”
In fact, the reverse may well be true, the doctors said, as vaping might get people off of cigarettes, instead of turning them to smoking. They said that “among smokers, e-cigarette use is likely to lead to quit attempts that would not otherwise have happened, and in a proportion of these to successful cessation. In this way, e-cigarettes can act as a gateway from smoking.”
Other seminal research into the health benefits of vaping comes from Cancer Research UK. Following an extensive study, it discovered that using e-cigarettes to get a nicotine hit was much safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes and that any long-term effects from vaping would be “minimal.”
With all these global measures to try and get people to finally kick the deadly habit of smoking, vaping may turn out to be everyone’s salvation.