Tobacco smoking is the single most important preventable cause of illness and death in Australia. Tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, over 70 of which have been linked to causing cancer.
While daily adult smoking levels have fallen across Australia, the rates of decline have slowed down in the period between 2013 to 2019 and there remain increased smoking rates across remote communities and people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas.
Nicotine vaping products could be utilised to address this (particularly amongst these at-risk demographics) as it has proven to be a more successful smoking cessation tool in many cases when compared with the often times unsuccessful approaches of nicotine patches, gum, medical interventions, counselling, and alternative medicine.
According to a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials conducted by the University of Queensland, smokers who used nicotine e-cigarettes were 49% more likely to stop smoking cigarettes than those who used traditional nicotine replacement therapies and 109% more likely to stop smoking than those in control conditions where no nicotine was supplied.
It should be noted that using nicotine vaping products does not come without its risks. However, Public Health England released an evidence-review in 2015, which found that based on best estimates, vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes, and when supported by a smoking cessation service, it is incredibly helpful in getting smokers to quit cigarettes altogether. Public Health England later reaffirmed this view in 2018. This ‘95% safer’ figure is based on the following evidence:
- The majority of the more than 7,000 toxic chemicals in cigarette smoke are not found in e-cigarette vapour and the chemicals that are present are far less concentrated.
- There are significantly lower levels of toxins and carcinogens found in the blood and saliva of e-cigarette users when compared to cigarette smokers.
- There is evidence of various health benefits for smokers who make the switch to vaping, including a reduction in the risk of:
- heart attacks
- systolic blood pressure
- complications from asthma
Watch the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association’s Video on Rachael’s Story – How a Former Nurse Quit with Vaping