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OWN #16 | 22-28 July 2019

Welcome to another instalment of the Opus Weekly News. Lots of news around Juul vs the United states this week but we've covered a lot of that already - I'll provide the links to that coverage for those who are interested. Interestingly there seems to be a lot of criticism over the vaping bans in the US and China is on the verge of regulating it's vaping industry; so let's get to it...

New comprehensive study in support of vaping to quit smoking

A new study, supposedly one of the most comprehensive yet, provides solid support for the case of vaping to quit smoking. The study found that smokers who vape every day are 77% more likely than non-vapers to quit smoking and remain off cigarettes after 2 years.

While this has been shown previously by other studies, the significance here is that this study comes out of the US (and reflect the habits of US citizens). Published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, the study used data from over 8000 adults who participated in a nationally representative survey. The participants provided information about their health, lifestyle and tobacco use and then provided updated information 2 years later.

The study found that, of the people who vaped daily, 11 percent were cigarette free during both follow up surveys - which might seem like a small percentage, but it's nearly double the 6% of the non-vapers who were smoke free during the follow up.

Interestingly they found that sporadic vaping (non-daily) did not increase a person's chance of quitting smoking.

Sporadic e-cigarette use, the researchers found, was not associated with higher odds of quitting, perhaps because these people were not using e-cigarettes in hopes of completely ditching combustible cigarettes, or because they could not satisfy their nicotine cravings with less-consistent use. Past studies that did not find a connection between vaping and smoking cessation may not have accounted for the differences in daily versus periodic use, the authors theorize.

Hopefully this kind of research will have some turnaround effect on the overwhelmingly negative press that vaping has been receiving over in the US. Read the full article and study below:

China is planning vaping regulation

China makes up around one third of the world's smoking population - over 300 million smokers. The state also runs a tobacco monopoly and makes around $145 billion a year from sales and taxes - over 5% of the government's revenue.

"The supervision of electronic cigarettes must be severely strengthened," said Mao Qunan, head of the National Health Commission’s (NHC) planning department, at a press conference Monday. The NHC "is working with relevant departments to conduct research on electronic cigarette supervision and we plan to regulate electronic cigarettes through legislation," he said.

Enforcing anti-smoking measures in China is difficult due to the government's entrenchment in the tobacco industry. The tobacco regulator also shares offices and senior officials with the state-owned China National Tobacco Corp - by far the world's biggest cigarette producer.

It will be interesting to see how hard China comes down on the vaping industry - whether to prevent any new addiction to nicotine, or to remove competition to it's cash cow tobacco industry.

Vaping Bans undermine decades of anti-smoking efforts

In the US, smoking remains the number one cause of preventable death. Yet cities all over the country are taking harm reduction products off the shelves while allowing cigarettes to remain.

It seems that the supposed "teen vaping epidemic" has made vaping public enemy number one - the irony is hard to miss: one is the number 1 killer, the other (which aims to lessen the first) is the number 1 enemy.

It is undeniable that vaping is less harmful than smoking - even though the degree to which is still largely debated. The reason being that nicotine (the only shared component between vaping and smoking) is addictive, but not toxic (in the quantities consumed through these products).

Bans, such as the one in San Francisco, put thousands of smokers at risk of relapse by limiting their access to less harmful alternatives.

Some might say this is a price they’re willing to pay to keep e-cigarettes away from teens. But what is often overlooked is that these bans won’t result in nicotine-free kids. Just the opposite.

In these cities, teens will no longer be able to buy vaping devices - or have someone buy vaping devices for them - but they will still be able to get their hands on cigarettes. Is that really the ideal direction to go in?

These cities and government bodies are also sending the message to their residents that smoking is less harmful than vaping. Research has shown that 45 percent of adults see vaping as just as harmful as smoking.

This week Congress will hold hearings on how best to respond to the youth vaping problem. Lawmakers should take note: Harm reduction works. Let’s not let feel-good policy stand in the way of actual good policy. E-cigarette bans — and other measures to limit access to vaping — will hurt smokers and our youth. It’s time for a new approach.

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