Reconstructing a better defect highlights a wider electronic cigarette error
After months of negotiations, the Biden administration Plan to build back better was eventually passed by the House, and some analysts are to predict that the sweeping bill could get Senate approval before Christmas. Public health experts, however, have drawn attention to a specific provision of the law.
The landmark social policy bill aims to make Americans happier and healthier, but the latest version contains a troubling provision: sweeten With multiple income-boosting measures targeting the ultra-rich, White House to introduce tax on nicotine alternatives, such as e-cigarettes, raising their cost by about 25 percent for an average user . Taxes on conventional cigarettes will remain unchanged.
Health experts have warned that this is a serious strategic error with major risks for public health. According to many economic studies, cigarettes and electronic cigarettes are generally substitutes for each other. If the cost of vaping increases relative to smoking, people will choose to smoke more conventional cigarettes, with devastating consequences.
Research has repeatedly shown that nicotine products exist on a risk continuum: at one end are cigarettes, posing the greatest risk to public health via a toxic cocktail tar, ammonia and carbon monoxide. E-cigarettes, with their controlled delivery of vaporized liquid, sit at the other end of the continuum, posing a significantly lower risk to public health.
All measures that give conventional cigarettes an advantage over less harmful products, such as the unequal taxation of the Build Back Better plan, clearly go against scientific evidence. Smoking is already killing some 480,000 Americans each year, and much research now exists to defend electronic cigarettes as an essential public health tool. Policy oversight at this stage is inexcusable.
Worse yet, the writers of the Build Back Better plan are not the only ones not to assess and regulate nicotine products in proportion to their risk. Despite the scale of the tobacco epidemic in Europe – some 23% of Europeans still smoke conventional tobacco products such as cigarettes or cigars, and smoking-induced diseases cause some 700,000 deaths per year – Brussels n has yet to take a reduced risk approach to nicotine products.
Instead of acknowledging the findings that switching from smoking to electronic cigarettes can significantly help adult smokers reduce their risk of health complications, many European policymakers remain guided by âscientifically unfoundedAnd risk “sabotaging” public health anti-smoking efforts.
In some cases, European policymakers are even adopting very restrictive measures against electronic cigarettes, notably flavor bans that threaten to cause many people to start smoking again. Even the typically liberal Dutch government would see flavored e-liquids banned in 2022; a similar movement in California correlated with a 30 percent increase in underage cigarette consumption for the first time in over ten years.
To understand the link between the brakes on the flavors of e-cigarettes and an increase in cigarette consumption is to take an interest in individuals who have successfully made the switch to e-cigarettes. A recent to study, which examined vaping users in Canada, England and the United States, investigated attitudes towards proposed policies to ban e-liquids without tobacco flavor; researchers find that over 80% of vape users oppose such a ban, with at least one in five considering reverting to smoking if the ban is enacted.
Meanwhile, a 2017 to study found that despite an increase in the number of vaping users in the US and UK since 2011, there had not been a corresponding increase in the rate of youth smoking. Instead, smoking among college students fell six to four percent in the United States, while smoking among high school students fell from 21 to 13 percent. For all the political pressure on vaping as “bridgeTo cigarettes, the data tells a whole different story.
Indeed, dangerous misconceptions about electronic cigarettes represent a problem that touches the top of the public health community, with the World Health Organization (WHO) having such a narrow view of nicotine alternatives that more than ‘About a hundred specialists signed an open letter last month urging the international health body to reassess its position.
“[We must] Consider the substantial body of evidence that we have, âthe experts in nicotine science and policy highlighted, “And not let excessive caution or residual uncertainties deprive smokers of promising options for moving away from combustible products that we know for sure are deadly …[the] WHO rejects public health strategy that could prevent millions of tobacco-related deaths.
The problem could well be that of inertia: the WHO has been opposite e-cigarettes for years and has always approached vaping products with extreme caution. In 2010, the WHO already called on governments to to forbid vaping in public places and restricting the marketing of electronic cigarettes. Unfortunately, this uncompromising sentiment clearly persists today – at the WHO as well as among policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic – despite a plethora of scientific evidence showing the clear benefits of a harm reduction approach.
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