One of the major causes of cancer is smoking. Out of the 1.3 million people who die from cancer per year 700,000 are associated with smoking. The European Parliament’s Special Committee (BECA) recently also acknowledged that ‘tobacco use, in particular cigarette smoking is the main risk factor for cancer death in Europe’. So, the question arises: how to best tackle smoking?
For several decades, both governmental and non-governmental agencies have used various public health policies to stem the tide of smoking, including taxes, bans on advertising, promoting various patches, gums, and therapies to deliver nicotine in an alternative form that is less harmful to hopefully former smokers. Unfortunately, many of these alternatives have not proven to be entirely successful, especially when compared to the efficacy of vaping.
To succeed in its mission, the EU institutions must be brave enough to endorse new approaches. Policymakers must recognise the benefits of vaping, and its potential to massively reduce the harm of smoking. Policymakers cannot ignore the facts any longer.
According to Public Health England, vaping is 95 percent less harmful compared to smoking and the cancer risk relative of vaping to smoking is 0.4 percent. The additional lifetime cancer risk for an e-cigarette user is 0.0095 percent compared to 2.4 percent for a smoker. Currently, 140 million people in the European Union still smoke and many of them struggle to quit. Therefore, we need every possible method available to them to make quitting easier.
"Policymakers must recognise the benefits of vaping, and its potential to massively reduce the harm of smoking. They cannot ignore the facts any longer"
Vaping is already a recommended means of quitting for smokers in the United Kingdom and France. Outside of the EU, both Health Canada and New Zealand’s Ministry of Health also recommend vaping to smokers looking to quit. Countries that adopt policies to reduce harm see better results in reducing smoking compared to more restrictive countries. An example of the latter is Australia, which has very harsh regulations on vaping and sees a much slower decline in the smoking rate compared to the United States or the United Kingdom which are more vaping friendly countries. Since 2013, when vaping first became popular in the UK, 25 percent fewer people smoke today, while in the US there has been a 24 percent reduction. For the same period, Australia saw a decline of only 8 percent. It is fair to assume that vaping played a key role in the rapid decline and helped many people to quit smoking.
It is time for the EU to follow the lead of these countries. We should be led by science and not by ideology on this issue. The European Beating Cancer plan must include vaping and actively encourage smokers who are not willing or unable to quit to switch to e-cigarettes. Otherwise, the goal of eradicating cancer in Europe cannot be achieved.
World Vapers Alliance
The World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) amplifies the voice of vapers around the world and empowers them to make a difference in their communities. Our members are vapers associations as well as individual vapers from all over the world. More information on www.worldvapersalliance.com