Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Australian Medical Association Says There's No Evidence E-Cigarettes Can Help Smokers Quit, While Thousands of Australians Quit Smoking Using E-Cigs

According to an article in The Age, the Australian Medical Association and the anti-smoking group Quit Victoria are saying that there is no evidence electronic cigarettes can help smokers quit, while before their very eyes, thousands of Australians are quitting smoking by switching to electronic cigarettes.

Although e-cigarettes were banned in Victoria last January, the products are in such demand that smokers continue to purchase them online, apparently a sign of their effectiveness in helping people get off cigarettes.

According to the article: "The Australian Medical Association and Quit Victoria say there is no evidence smokeless, battery-powered ''e-cigarettes'' packed with nicotine can help people quit, and they warn that such products have not been tested for safety and could pose a serious health risk."

At the same time: "Thousands of Australian smokers are switching to ... electronic cigarettes despite a ban on the products, which are being marketed as the ''healthy'' way to kick the habit."

The Rest of the Story

With the evidence right in front of their very eyes, anti-smoking and health groups in Australia are apparently so blinded by ideology that they cannot see the facts which are unraveling before them.

Apparently, electronic cigarettes are so helpful to smokers that they are in demand in spite of a ban on the product. And apparently, thousands of smokers are using the product in an attempt to quit smoking, many of them with success.

Ironically, the Quit Victoria web site, which publishes smokers' success stories (in quitting), displays the story of two smokers who were successful quitting with the use of electronic cigarettes. Apparently, they don't read their own web site.

It appears that like their counterparts in the U.S., anti-smoking groups in Australia are also blinded by ideology, which leads them to oppose anything that looks like smoking, regardless of what the evidence shows.

The existing evidence demonstrates that electronic cigarettes can be effective in suppressing the urge to smoke. This effect is probably due largely to the behavioral stimuli that vaping produces, which are quite similar to smoking. Anti-smoking groups have overplayed the pharmacologic aspect of smoking addiction, and largely ignored the behavioral and psychological aspects of the addiction. But there is a body of research evidence which reveals that nicotine alone is not enough to suppress the urge to smoke, and that behavioral stimuli alone (sham smoking) can suppress cigarette cravings, even in the absence of nicotine. The advantage of electronic cigarettes is that they deliver both: they address both the pharmacologic and the behavioral/psychological aspects of the smoking addiction.

The existing evidence also demonstrates that vaping is likely far less hazardous than smoking. Moreover, no constituents of the electronic cigarette vapor have been implicated in disease causation at the levels that have been detected in laboratory studies. In fact, tobacco-specific nitrosamines are present in only trace levels in e-cigarettes, compared to very high levels in regular cigarettes. How anti-smoking groups can be aware of such evidence yet continue to claim that there is no indication that e-cigs are any safer than regular ones is beyond me.

The rest of the story is that anti-smoking groups have become blinded by their adherence to ideology and are no longer seeing the scientific evidence that is before their eyes. Unfortunately, smokers would be better served by taking the matter into their own hands, doing their own research, and making their own decision about what course of action is most likely to improve their health. Fortunately, thousands of Australians appear to be doing just that.

No comments: