Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Vaping Popularity

"I would think that tobacco-control people would be celebrating. That's more rapid [drop in cigarette smoking] than would be predicted."
"With increasing use of e-cigarettes, and decreasing use of tobacco, it totally makes sense that there has been substitution going on."
Mark Ryndall, executive director, B.C. Centre for Disease Control

"It is being done despite the anti-smoking establishment. It isn't that governments have been encouraging this [new smoking technology] ... quite the opposite."
"Governments have been doing things to get int he way."
David Sweanor, anti-smoking movement activist, Ottawa

"It appears there has been a very big increase in quitting [conventional tobacco smoking], and it appears to be recent, [the] unprecedented [drop in American smoking rates]."
Ken Warner, public health professor, University of Michigan
A customer puffs on an e-cigarette at the Henley Vaporium in New York City December 18, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Despite the enthusiasm expressed by many who give credit to the growing popularity of e-cigarettes taking away from the conventional smoking population, not everyone is convinced that vaping has replaced cigarettes. They look elsewhere for cause-and-effect. According to Rob Cunningham for example, who is an analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, the latest survey data that they rely upon as the basis for their statements, the lower rate of smoking is attributable to higher taxes.

A carton of cigarettes has had a $4 federal tax imposed, with a like amount of taxation set in several provinces since 2013-15, and it is that higher cost that they feel accounts for the drop in smoking rates. They also point out that people who indulge in e-cigarettes, largely also are smokers of cigarettes. In the age range where e-cigarettes are most popular, they state, smoking tobacco has remained at a steady rate over the past two years.

"That's of concern, that the progress among 20 to 24-year-olds appears to have stalled", commented Mr. Cunningham. Still, the most recent statistics underlining a sharp drop in the number of Canadians smoking has some experts supporting the plausibility of the e-cigarette displacing regular smoking with "vaping". And they emphasize that with vaping much of the carcinogen content in tobacco smoke is avoided.

Should they be correct in their interpretation it would represent a trend to better health habits that consumers themselves are leading, along with the entrepreneurs that provide them with the alternate products, and not advocacy groups and health authorities. Against that tide of opinion, however, there is the 'other side' with other experts satisfied that the diminished smoking numbers reflect tobacco tax increases doing what they were meant to do; dissuade people from smoking, with higher costs a penalty to be paid if they persist.

E-cigarette users still get their hit of addictive nicotine through the vapour emitted but without inhaling the assorted cancer-causing chemicals certain to be delivered by tobacco smoke. While their proponents claim the machines represent a much safer alternative than real cigarettes, their detractors point out that the use of e-cigarettes could lead to a re-normalization of a health-destructive habit. Amid fears that vaping could represent a gateway to cigarette smoking for young people.

In the wake of a long downward trend in smoking that petered out in the late 2000s, the rate of smoking among age fifteen-and-over Canadians fell from 19 percent to 17 percent in 2005-2011, according to the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey. In the following four years the rate fell to 13 percent of the adult population concomitant with vaping emerging as a popular alternative, a 2015 survey revealed.

A poll by the federal government estimated that 3.8 million people were smoking in 2015, representing 400,000 fewer than in 2013. 713,000 people identified in the poll were using e-cigarettes with most of the vapers continuing to smoke tobacco, while 107,000 were former smokers. This trend in Canada reflects what the United States, Britain and other countries are seeing, where vaping has become popular.

E-cigarettes are metal tubes that heat liquids typically laced with nicotine and deliver vapor when inhaled. The liquids come in thousands of flavors, from cotton candy to pizza.
Use of the devices has grown quickly in the last decade, with U.S. sales expected to reach $4.1 billion in 2016, according to Wells Fargo Securities. Sales were down 6 percent in the first quarter of 2016, however.
The healthcare community remains deeply divided over the devices. Some healthcare experts are concerned about how little is known about the potential health risks. They are especially worried about rising teen e-cigarette use, and fear that may get a new generation hooked on nicotine.
People use electronic vaporizers with cannabidiol (CBD)-rich hemp oil while attending the International Cannabis Association Convention in New York, October 12, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

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