New Delhi: Rushed blanket ban on e-cigarettes could do more public harm than good, as it takes away a powerful tool available with smokers trying to quit cigarettes, according to public health and tobacco policy experts.
In an article published in the journal, Science, the experts have cautioned that blanket policies developed in a rush come with downsides.
“Illnesses and deaths, which appear to be related to vaping illicit oils, have caused justifiable alarm as has the rise of young people who are vaping nicotine. But in our response we must not lump together these troubling developments and fail to consider the powerful evidence supporting the availability of legal nicotine products,” Amy Fairchild, dean of The Ohio State University College, said in a statement.
According to the authors of the paper, restricting access to less harmful vaping products, when deadly combustible products are available in the market, does not protect public health.
This year, The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 2,291 cases of serious lung injury and 48 deaths as of last week.
‘All scientific evidence regarding risks & benefits should be examined’
Although e-cigarettes are touted as a tool to help smokers quit, a number of research studies pointed out that the flavoured e-cigarettes appealed to teens and ended up acting as a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes.
Studies have also identified adverse health effects of vaping, following which the Indian government put a ban on e-cigarettes this year.
A number of states in the US have moved to ban either all vaping products or those with flavors other than tobacco flavoring, including menthol.
Fairchild said vaping policy discussions should examine all of the scientific evidence regarding the risks and benefits.
She added that one has to distinguish between products manufactured by reputable companies and those sold in the black market, and between the potential risks and benefits to adolescents and to adults.
The research published in Science shows that not only vaping, but flavoured products, in particular, can help adult smokers quit and provide a more effective and appealing option than nicotine replacement therapy.
The researchers urge continued efforts to better understand the risks and benefits of vaping and call for regulatory measures that strike a balance between “making regulated nicotine vaping products available to smokers while adopting forceful measures to limit the risks to and use by youth as much as possible”.
“It is crucial to identify the source of serious lung injuries and closely monitor and regulate the vaping industry — including how it markets its products to young people,” said co-author James Curran, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University.
“But the evidence so far supports continuing to allow nicotine vaping as a harm-reduction alternative to smoking, which remains the largest preventable cause of death and disability in our country,” Curran said in the statement.