Hamilton, June 12, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- An op-ed published by the Calgary Herald, “Alberta’s vaping bill fails to protect children and youth”, outlines what the advocacy group Stop Addicting Adolescents to Vaping and E-cigarettes (SAAVE) view as shortcomings to Alberta’s new vaping legislation. The Canadian Vaping Association (CVA) shares the belief that vapour products should never be used by youth, however SAAVE is misinformed on several critical points.
SAAVE states that there is little evidence that vaping is an effective tool to quit smoking. As this organization fails to acknowledge vaping as the most successful harm reduction tool globally, they clearly do not understand why it is imperative that vaping legislation be balanced to both protect youth while ensuring the availability of these life saving products for adult smokers. There are many credible peer reviewed studies which have proven that vaping is less harmful than smoking, most notably the Royal College of Physicians which has concluded for the sixth consecutive year that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking.
Additionally, National Health Services (NHS) conducted a controlled trial in which participants were randomly assigned to varying nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products (patches, gums, etc.) or e-cigarettes. After one year, 18% of e-cigarette users had completely quit smoking compared to only 9.9% of NRT users. The trial concluded that vaping is nearly twice as effective as the leading NRT products and that smokers increase their chances of quitting smoking by 83% through the use of e-cigarettes compared to NRTs. The people assigned e-cigarettes in this significant study reported less severe urges to smoke, which is likely at least partially responsible for the increased success rates seen in those who quit smoking through vape products over NRTs. The findings in this NHS study were validated through the peer-review process and were subsequently published both in the New England Journal of Medicine and British Medical Journal.
The Rutgers School of Public Health and the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health also conducted a study into vaping effectiveness which concluded that 50% of daily vapers are individuals that have successfully quit smoking completely. This study also clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation.
In their op-ed, SAAVE calls on the Government of Alberta to ban flavours entirely to curb youth vaping. Flavour bans have been conclusively proven to be ineffective and counter productive. All studies have shown that flavour bans serve only to increase smoking rates with no impact on youth vaping rates.
After Juul’s voluntary removal of flavours in the United States, The American Cancer Society conducted a study which concluded that without flavours available the youth vaping rates did not change. Instead of quitting vaping, youth simply switched to tobacco and mint vape products.
The idea that flavoured vaping products contribute to youth vaping is a common misconception that has also been discredited by the Centers of Decease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC report “Tobacco Product Use and Associated Factors Among Middle and Highschool Students”, 77.7% of the teens surveyed whom had tried vaping indicated that they had done so for a reason unrelated to flavours, the most common of which was simply curiosity.
While many of SAAVE’s recommendations to the government have already been proven ineffective, the CVA agrees with their recommendation to limit nicotine concentrations to 20 milligrams per millilitre, in line with the regulations seen throughout the European Union. In addition, the CVA agrees that the sale of these products should be restricted to adult only environments.
The rise in youth vaping rates here in Canada directly correlates to the entrance of Big Tobacco vape brands, such as Juul and Vype. With the entrance of tobacco owned vape brands came aggressive advertising campaigns which were not restricted to adult environments, a practise that has since been federally prohibited. Additionally, the products distributed by these brands have nicotine concentrations of 57 - 59 milligrams per millilitre, making them highly addictive, and the devices are very easily concealed. The UK has not seen a rise in youth vaping as a result of the nicotine limit that had been established in the European Union prior to the entrance of tobacco owned high nicotine vape brands; this nicotine limit meant that the high nicotine vape products distributed by companies like Juul and Vype were not available in the UK to entice youth.
The CVA commends health organizations and advocates for their continued efforts to protect youth from nicotine addiction. However, as the most effective harm reduction tool, vaping can save the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Canadians. The studies have shown that flavours play a critical role in an adult smokers’ transition from combustible tobacco, while flavour bans have proven to be ineffective in curbing youth uptake. It is critical that health organization recognize the harm reduction potential of these products and support balanced evidence-based regulation. Advocating for policies that limit the availability of the most effective smoking cessation tool and the flavours which play such an integral role in the success rates of reformed smokers is negating the importance of millions of Canadian smokers’ lives.
The Canadian Vaping Association