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"The researchers wanted to understand how e-cigarettes affect the lives of cancer patients"

Smoking has been the leading cause of preventable death and disease across the globe for what seems like forever. One of the most common illnesses directly linked to use of tobacco products is various forms of lung, throat, and mouth cancer. Almost everyone knows someone whose life has been affected by this terrible disease. While vaping is still a relatively new beast, there is a growing set of evidence that indicates it may be extremely useful for getting all kinds of smokers off cigarettes for good.

One such article was recently published in the Psycho-Oncology Journal by researchers at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa Florida. The paper called Electronic Cigarette Use Among Patients With Cancer: Reasons For Use, Beliefs, And Patient-Provider Communication, wanted to explore the traditionally unasked question of e-cigarette use among cancer patients. The aim was to put oncologists in a better position to understand and therefore ask questions about their patient’s vaping.

The New Study

The study was led by John Correa, who also teaches in the Psychology department of the University of South Florida. Correa and his team decided it was important to delve into the frequency that cancer patients use vaporizers, as well as their thoughts and feelings on their habit change. They started by finding cancer patients who use to smoke but now vaped and asked them a range of questions about their usage patterns, perception, and reasons for making the switch. The 121 participants were also asked about how often and in what manner their health care provider had asked questions about e-cigarette use.

An overwhelming majority of those surveyed said that trying to quit smoking was their reason for picking up vaping, a full 81%. In comparison, 60% said staying off cigarettes was why they kept vaping. Almost three quarters, 72%, of participants said their oncologist had never asked any questions at all about their e-cigarette usage. But perhaps the most important findings of the research was that nearly all participants found e-cigarettes to be a more effective smoking cessation tool than nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gum.

Overall, patients also believe vaping to be less detrimental to their treatment plan, as well as bringing them less scrutiny among peers, both reasons cited for continued use. The researchers concluded, “patients with cancer who use e‐cigarettes have positive attitudes toward these devices and use them to aid in smoking cessation.” Support for this smoking cessation value is something that has been growing support over the last several years.

Evidence For Vaping

This is just one new piece of evidence demonstrating the value of e-cigarettes. Especially over the last five years, researchers have been diving into the efficacy of vaping as a harm reduction and smoking cessation tool. One of the most famous studies was published by Public Health England back in 2015. PHE is the public health officials for England, similar to the role that the FDA has in America. This now famous report concluded that vaping is at least 95% safer than continued smoking. But the evidence hasn’t stopped there. Last fall, a study was published in the Journal of Aerosol Science that observed a massive reduction in cancer-causing substances in the vapor when compared with smoke. The researchers concluded that the lifetime excess cancer risk of a vaper is over 57,000 times lower than that of a smoker.

In addition to its harm reduction value, vaping has also been shown to be a very useful smoking cessation tool. In fact, it’s been shown to be the most effective smoking cessation tool available. A study published last year by the University of Louisville analyzed data from the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health report and determined the success rates of different quit methods from cold turkey through prescription drugs. When everything had been analyzed, vaping enjoyed a higher rate of success than any other aid, including the prescription drugs.

Implications

Public perception, not lack of value, is what continues to hold back vaping from reaching its full potential. When the general population doesn’t understand that vaping is significantly less dangerous than smoking, you see a reduced number of smokers attempting a switch. After all, if the level of harm was comparable, why make the switch from something you’re already used too and enjoy? But polling shows that only a tiny percentage of the population understands the harm reduction value of vaping.

One poll conducted by Action on Smoking and Health found that only 13% of respondents felt that vaping was much safer than smoking, while over 26% thought that e-cigarettes were just as, if not more dangerous. Figures like this must improve if we’re ever going to prevent legislators from lumping vaping under the tobacco control umbrella. If we as a society truly value the end of the smoking epidemic, it makes no sense to continue treating vaping as merely an alternative tobacco product. We must support the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaping. Hopefully, studies like this will continue to shed light on these criminally misunderstood devices.

 

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