Dr. Brad Rodu
Professor of Medicine & Endowed Chair of Tobacco Harm Reduction Research, University of Louisville
You may wonder why an American professor accepted an invitation from the Canadian Vaping Association to author an article about e-cigarettes. In part, it’s because I want to apologize to you for the way my government, which is engaged in a coordinated, expensive campaign to create a tobacco-free society, has wrongfully destroyed the prospect of a smoke-free future for millions. Don’t listen to American health officials, who emphasize only the negatives, untruths, and urban myths. Don’t let their campaign stop you from stepping away from the fire.
Instead, you should follow the lead of Britain’s Royal College of Physicians, one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious medical societies. Nearly 20 years ago, it advised, “as a way of using nicotine, the consumption of non-combustible tobacco is on the order of 10-1,000 times less hazardous than smoking, depending on the product.”1
In 2007, the Royal College published a report2 challenging governments to consider “that smokers smoke predominantly for nicotine, that nicotine itself is not especially hazardous, and that if nicotine could be provided in a form that is acceptable and effective as a cigarette substitute, millions of lives could be saved. This report makes the case for radical reform to the way that nicotine products are regulated and used in society.” It described its ideas as “controversial and challenge many current and entrenched views in medicine and public health. The principles behind them have the potential to save millions of lives. They deserve consideration.”
Unlike their American counterparts, British authorities have consistently told smokers the truth about vaping since 2011. In fact, their Department of Health helps smokers switch from combustibles to vapour. As a result, the U.K. vaping population ballooned from 700,000 in 2012 to 3.6 million in 2019.
The Royal College provided the perfect reason for you to switch from cigarettes to vape in 2016: “The hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5 percent of the harm from smoking tobacco.”
1. Royal College of Physicians. Protecting smokers, saving lives: The case for a tobacco and nicotine regulatory authority. Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians. London: RCP, 2002.
2. Royal College of Physicians. Harm reduction in nicotine addiction: Helping people who can’t quit. Tobacco Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians. London: RCP, 2007.