The costs of vaping needs to be decreased for smokers in developing countries as an urgent “human rights issue”, researchers have told a pro-tobacco conference in London.
Addressing a 300-strong audience of tobacco and vaping industry representatives, Helen Redmond, an expert in substance use at New York City University’s Silver School of Social Work, said people in poor countries should not be priced away from nicotine-based products that may potentially help them to stop smoking.
Redmond compared the medicinal qualities of nicotine with cannabis and stressed “the need to get vaping to the poorest, who want it most”.
“It’s a human rights issue – as a harm reduction device, prices must fall,” she said. “Nicotine is not a dirty drug, it can help with depression and anxiety.”
Academics at the 2018 global tobacco and nicotine forum called for additional research into the possible medical benefits associated with nicotine along with a focus on the development of innovative nicotine-based items that will give you a “smoke-free society” and lower the dangerous outcomes of cigarettes.
Viscount Matt Ridley, an author and member of the House of Lords, joined the chorus of experts promoting vaping as a kind of harm reduction, arguing that subjecting electronic cigarette to the same workplace restrictions as smoking might be viewed as an infringement of an individual’s human rights.
“We should treat vaping in a similar manner that people treat use of cell phones,” said Ridley. “The best way to get people to quit [smoking] would be to innovate with technology”.
Ridleytold the conference that, despite the industry’s continued concentrate on promoting nicotine-based products as a type of harm reduction, public opinion was moving from vaping due to media “scare stories”. He compared the industry’s plight, specifically in america, to that particular faced by “bootleggers and baptists during prohibition”.
Clive Bates, director of advocacy group Counterfactual, described the views of anti-tobacco campaigners as “hostile and focused”, accusing them of having rival commercial interests using a goal of “annihilating” the market. Warning from the damage caused by “those with a vested interest in causing alarm”, he explained that although critics laboured to generate evidence to “maintain the narrative of harm”, technological advances meant the transition to vape-type products was prone to become mandatory instead of voluntary.
There are 1.1 billion smokers worldwide and 6 million die each year being a direct consequence of smoking. Another 890,000 people annually die prematurely because of second-hand smoke, according to the World Health Organization.
Just one cigarette contains greater than 200 carcinogenic chemicals, along with the addictive stimulant nicotine. Scientists and academics have up to now neglected to reach agreement on pros and cons of long-term nicotine use.
With a plenary session, clinical psychologist Karl Fagerström called for research into the positive benefits of nicotine, which he believes can aid people suffering from Alzheimer’s and depression. He also advised wgferg the business should move from combustible to nicotine-based products.
“No one is interested in establishing what some great benefits of smoking nicotine are,” Fagerström said.
Martin Jarvis, professor of health psychology at University College London, saidthe US was moving towards prohibition-type enforcement, using the Food and Drug Administration eager to reduce the amount of nicotine in cigarettes.
“Society doesn’t understand nicotine,” said Jarvis, “because they think it is particularly bad.”
But Jarvis said “describing nicotine to be addictive is justified”, adding that “80% of smokers wished they never started”.