WASHINGTON, D.C. — In what could turn out to be a transformative moment in the debate over vaping in America, a research team led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center is now estimating that vaping could save the lives of up to 6.6 million U.S. smokers over the next 10 years. On the basis of this evidence, the researchers are recommending that public health organizations adopt a strategy of encouraging smokers to switch to vaping to hasten the decline of America’s smoking rate.
Published in the journal Tobacco Control, the study is the first to model the best and worst case outcomes of U.S. smokers switching to vaping. In establishing their variables, the researchers considered a range of factors, including differing estimates on the relative harm of vapor products versus cigarettes, as well as the impact of vaping on cessation, switching, and initiation, including by nonusers.
In the most pessimistic scenario tested by the researchers, a strategy of replacing cigarettes with vaping is calculated to save 1.6 million lives, or 160,000 lives per year. (Read Reuters’ report on the study).
“Even the gloomiest analysis shows a significant gain in years of life if nicotine is obtained from vaping instead of much more deadly amount of toxicants inhaled with cigarette smoke,” said David Levy, a lead researcher and professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi. “Old policies need to be supplemented with policies that encourage substituting e-cigarettes for the far more deadly cigarettes.”
The study, which involved researchers from Georgetown University, Yale University, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and others, was funded by the National Institutes of Health. In total, the researchers conclude that as many as 86.7 million years of life could be gained by smokers who make the switch during the ten year period modeled in the study.
Gregory Conley, President of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit that champions vaping for smokers looking to quit, commented on the implications of the study:
“This study could represent a seismic shift in the way the FDA and public health groups look at vaping. For years, harm reduction advocates have relied on quality research from independent European researchers and non-government organizations, only to be told that such research was somehow not trustworthy because the authors were not American. Now, we have some of the most respected American researchers in the field of tobacco control explaining in detail how vaping can and will save lives.”
“If there is a fault with this research, it is that it assumes that a functional vaping market will still exist in a decade. Unless FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb acts to reform the FDA’s outdated tobacco regulatory system, over 99% of vapor products could be banned in or before 2022. We are hopeful that studies like this will give Gottlieb the confidence he needs to truly modernize the way FDA regulates smoke-free nicotine products.”
Other research highlights from this week:
- Banning e-cigarette flavors, with or without a corresponding ban on menthol cigarettes, could harm public health by discouraging adult smokers from quitting. That is according to research conducted by the Yale School of Public Health and the Centre for Health Policy at the Imperial College in London, the results of which are being distributed the National Bureau of Economic Research. (MarketWatch coverage).
- Among young adults in the Chicago area, e-cigarette use was not associated with later cigarette smoking, according to research published by the journal Addiction.
About the American Vaping Association
The American Vaping Association is a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that encourage the growth and sustainability of small- and medium-sized businesses in the rapidly growing vaping and electronic cigarette industry. The AVA was founded by Gregory Conley, a consumer and industry advocate with a long track record of advocating for vapor products dating back to 2010.
We are dedicated to educating the public and government officials about public health benefits offered by vapor products, which are battery-powered devices that heat a liquid nicotine or nicotine-free solution and create an inhalable vapor. The AVA is not a trade group and does not speak for any particular businesses, including our industry sponsors.