For years the anti-vape crowd has been holding onto the fact that an insufficient amount of research has been done to prove whether e-cigarettes are in fact safer than tobacco cigarettes in the long-term. However, while we’ll need to see many more studies with larger amounts of participants, there has already been a great deal of research done to suggest that, at the least, vapour is less toxic than smoke.
Furthermore, while there have been strict rules and guidelines imposed to prevent e-cig companies from marketing their products as quit smoking aids, there have also been studies to show that vaporising is often used by people who are attempting to reduce their nicotine dependency or quit smoking altogether.
Why is the Media Downplaying Positive Studies about Vaping?
Last year, a report from the Cochrane Collaboration compiled data collected by researchers in the UK and New Zealand in two in-depth trials that involved a total of more than 600 participants. While this is too small of a group to base a definite decision on, this small study could be used as the foundation to a hypothesis that may lead to similar but larger studies in the near future.
In particular, the study showed that while e-cigs are not being marketed as quit smoking aids, 10% of the trial participants stated that they had been able to give up their nicotine dependency completely within just 12 months of starting e-cigs.
Although 1 out of 10 may seem like an insignificant amount, it is an improvement in comparison to the 4% of participants who stated that they were unable to give up nicotine by using nicotine-free vaporisers instead. This suggests that vaporised nicotine could be used to wean smokers away from their nicotine habits in the same way a patch is used, but with the added benefit of emulating the habit-forming act of smoking.
Even though the trials are too small to initiate an industry-wide change, they should at least motivate researchers to take a closer look into using vaporisation as a way to reduce the prevalence of tobacco and nicotine addiction worldwide.
Can Vaping Really Reduce Tobacco and Nicotine Dependency?
The aforementioned study isn’t the first that has led many to ask whether vaping could be used as a tool against tobacco addiction. Still, regulators have strictly forbidden vape companies from marketing their products as quit smoking aids, despite the fact that e-cigs show potential in this area. The Cochrane study showed that more than 35% of the vaporiser users were able to significantly reduce their tobacco intake using e-cigs, compared to only 28% who were able reduce their intake using a placebo.
Again, this is a small improvement over the placebo results, but still notable enough to warrant further research with a larger pool of participants. In addition, a difference of 7 or 8 percent could mean millions of people on a larger scale when you consider that there are millions of nicotine addicts in the world. That type of reduction in nicotine addiction on a global level could translate to millions of pounds saved in public health systems and a higher quality of life for the people who are able to use vaping to reduce or eliminate their nicotine dependency.
If vaping really can reduce nicotine dependency and help people stop smoking, it could be several more years before such benefits would be openly marketed to the masses without consequences from regulators, as we’ll probably need to see some research investments from big pharma or big tobacco before that happens.
So Why Isn’t More Research Being Done?
It takes a lot of resources and financial backing to conduct huge trials like those featured in peer-reviewed publications, which involve thousands of participants and are specifically designed to find conclusive evidence in favour of or against a particular hypotheses. The biggest players in the vape industry, who would be able to devote vast amounts of resources towards such research, happen to be the big tobacco companies that have entered into e-cig production in the past few years.
Of course, those are the same companies that sell the main tobacco cigarette brands, so they would have no incentive to want to pay for such research, and the smaller companies in the pro-vape crowd who produce vaporisation devices and e-liquids simply can’t afford to fund exhaustive, industry-changing research.
That leaves only the medical community and organisations involved in public health to uncover the truth about vaping and e-cigs. Still, since such studies wouldn’t really benefit many pharmaceutical companies, and in fact may even hurt the sales of nicotine patches and other pharma-approved stop smoking aids, it is unlikely that any huge trials will be undertaken to show the positive side of e-cigs in the near future.
Instead, we continue to see studies that aim to highlight the shortcomings of e-cigs, despite vapour being widely considered mild when compared to the inherent toxicity of tobacco smoke. Eventually, once tobacco companies have taken an irreversible stronghold over the market, then we may begin to see more positive studies about vaping reaching the mainstream media.