A new article publishing in the forthcoming volume of the Annual Review of Public Health focuses on harm minimization and smoking cessation, with alternative nicotine products like e-cigarettes emerging as a promising avenue for people who want to quit smoking. Compared with vaping, smoking is much more harmful and prematurely kills over half of lifetime smokers.
“Studies show that if most current American smokers switched to vaping e-cigarettes over the next 10 years, there could be as many as 6.6 million fewer premature deaths and 86.7 million fewer life years would be lost,” said Dr. David Abrams, professor of social and behavioral sciences at New York University College of Global Public Health and the article’s lead author.
“The safest course is to stop smoking or, better, never to start. But a harm minimization approach recognizes that demanding absolute perfection is often counterproductive and that, when a harmful behavior cannot be eliminated, we can still dramatically reduce adverse health consequences.”
The Future of Harm Minimization and Smoking Cessation
The U.S. government is taking notice of the evidence on harm minimization. In July 2017, the Food and Drug Administration announced a major shift in its tobacco strategy, including recognizing the role of less harmful products, such as e-cigarettes, for smokers who want a satisfying alternative to smoking cigarettes. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said, “Nicotine, though not benign, is not directly responsible for the tobacco-caused cancer, lung disease and heart disease that kill hundreds of thousands of Americans each year.”
“Alternative nicotine delivery systems, such as e-cigarettes, have the potential to disrupt the 120-year dominance of the cigarette and challenge the field on how the tobacco pandemic could be reversed if nicotine is decoupled from lethal inhaled smoke,” added Dr. Abrams. “E-cigarettes could provide a means to compete with, and even replace, cigarette use, saving more lives more rapidly than previously possible.”
The research was supported by Truth Initiative.