The Need To Reduce The Harm Of Smokers Cannot Be Ignored

More than 30 experts around the world have called for an end to the stigmatization of e-cigarettesThe need to reduce the harm of smokers cannot be ignored


One of the most influential public health conferences on e-cigarettes (herbal heatsticks) in the world, the E-Cigarette Summit 2021, was recently held in the United States. At the meeting, more than 30 experts discussed the latest global evidence to reduce the harm caused by e-cigarettes and quit smoking. Several experts said public health authorities should publicize the findings and immediately stop stigmatizing e-cigarettes in order to regain public trust.


The theme of the summit is “Exploring the impact of e-cigarettes on smoking rates”.Guests include senior executives from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and leading experts in the fields of global public health, medicine, tobacco control and drug reform.

However, shortly after the conference began, experts expressed their frustration with the stigmatization of e-cigarettes by public health authorities and the media, and the theme of the conference changed to “How to Regain Trust in E-cigarettes.” Some experts suggested spreading the right information about e-cigarettes in a timely manner, while others said there should be a “bridge” between protecting teenagers and helping smokers quit.


How serious are the consequences of smokers turning to roll-back cigarettes, public health agencies failing to trust, and stigmatizing e-cigarettes?


Professor Kenneth Warner, dean emeritus of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, was the first speaker at the summit. In his view, most U.S. policy makers, public health agencies and the media have focused on issues related to teens and “there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said. But it would be wrong to exaggerate the dangers of e-cigarettes.

There have been a number of studies around the world to confirm the harm reduction and smoking cessation effect of e-cigarettes. Cochrane, a leading international medical organization known as the “gold standard” of the industry, has pointed out that e-cigarettes have the effect of smoking cessation, and the effect is better than nicotine replacement therapy. Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, a senior research fellow at the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group, reiterated this conclusion at the summit.


“We see from the scientific evidence that e-cigarettes have the potential to reduce smoking rates and even mortality by helping smokers quit.” “However, due to the stigma associated with e-cigarettes, many members of the public, including smokers, mistakenly believe that e-cigarettes are just as dangerous as cigarettes,” Prof Kenneth Warner said.That creates a lot of concern.”


The most immediate consequence is the rise in smoking rates in America. Abigail Friedman, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, told the conference that the ban on e-cigarette flavors, such as fruit, has led many smokers to return to cigarettes. “The data shows that after the e-cigarette(herbal heatsticks supplier) flavor ban in San Francisco, the rate of youth smoking in the city doubled, which will significantly increase the cost of tobacco control.” Not only that, but persistent misinformation can also make public health institutions and the media lose the basic trust of the public.


“Building and maintaining public trust in public health institutions is a core element of a successful public health campaign.But trust in some public health institutions is declining because they are distorting the truth.”Mike Cummings, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina.His speech was entitled “Do we have to risk losing the public’s trust?”



Regaining public trust, dispelling myths and balancing the needs of smokers are key


During the “Nicotine, Policy and Regulation” session at the summit, Cliff Douglas, former vice president of tobacco control for the American Cancer Society, stressed the need to find common ground between harm reducers and prohibitionists: “Protection for youth and support for adult smokers to quit can and must go together.At the same time, we must not ignore the demands of e-cigarette users.”


Cliff Douglas’s view is echoed by many experts.Ethan Nadelmann, founder of the Drug Policy Alliance and one of the world’s leading drug policy experts, said public health authorities must not focus solely on the “potential harms” of e-cigarettes and ignore the voices of today’s smokers and consumers.Cheryl Healton, a professor at New York University’s School of Global Public Health, said smokers should have the right to choose their own mitigation plans and should “seek new social justice”.




There is already explicit and official support for e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool in some countries.Speaking at the summit, Ann McNeill, a tobacco addiction expert from King’s College London, gave a detailed account of the UK’s e-cigarette policy, saying Public Health England has made e-cigarettes available as part of its “smoke-free 2030″ strategy.


“Support for e-cigarettes in the UK is backed by a large body of scientific evidence.”It is critical that public health authorities focus on disseminating this evidence of e-cigarette harm reduction.”Ann McNeill said.She said a 2015 study by Public Health England found that vaping reduced the risk of cigarettes by 95 percent, with negligible levels of harmful chemicals.


“We also need to clear up some rumors to reduce public misunderstanding about e-cigarettes.”Matthew Holman, director of the Division of Science in the FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products.For example, the “e-cigarette lung disease” (” popcorn lung “) rumor in the US has been cleared up by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) : the vitamin E acetate in illegal THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) products, which is not found in regular nicotine e-cigarettes, is to blame.


Matthew Holman also revealed that the FDA “will help adult smokers access and switch to e-cigarettes.”According to a report at Filter’s summit, e-cigarette products could remain on the market under the premarket application (PMTA) for “public health benefits.”That would mean the U.S. government officially recognizes the harm-reduction benefits of e-cigarettes.