The Realities of Smoking and Vaping

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The American Lung Association’s How to Quit Smoking offers tips, secrets, and myriad reasons to help smokers quit. Why? Simple, because nearly all Americans who use tobacco know how difficult it is to quit. Most people who smoke cigarettes want to quit. In fact, many have tried to quit – only to fail.

According to the American Lung Association, ex-smokers say quitting tobacco was the most challenging feat they had ever accomplished. Giving up cigarettes is more difficult than climbing mountains or corporate ladders; ex-smokers profess quitting was tougher than childbirth—and the research backs it up. The data shows that smokers make – on average – 30 attempts to quit smoking before they can kick the habit for good.

The reality of smoking is too many people simply quit trying to quit. It is too hard.

Nearly 40 million Americans smoke cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites tobacco use as the “leading cause of preventable disease, disability, and death in the United States.” The CDC confirms that smoking causes 480,000 deaths annually in the United States, which translates into 1,300 smoking-related deaths per day, 54 deaths per hour, or almost one death per minute.

The reality of smoking is too many people die from cigarette smoking because too many people quit trying to quit. It is too hard.

The reality is clear. Yet, anti-smoking activists and government regulators are fighting technologies and products that could potentially save millions of lives. Government officials and ‘do-good’ public health advocates are stifling innovation that will help people quit cigarettes.

British research, published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, offered compelling evidence that vaping can help smokers quit cigarettes. The research shows that e-cigarettes are nearly twice as effective as nicotine gums and patches.

The reality is that e-cigarettes are an effective device for smoking cessation; more effective, in fact, than other nicotine replacement therapies. Therefore, if we want fewer people to smoke cigarettes, the public health community should be looking at policies that do not obstruct adult access to vaping.

Public health policy should be based on sound science and rigorous research—on reality not ideology. And as the library of science on vaping continues to expand, policymakers and health advocates must consider the benefits of e-cigarettes over tobacco.

In the age of COVID-19, politicians, public health advocates, and experts are all guilty of politicizing science. Look at the media-created controversies over hydroxychloroquine, masks, and vaccines. Politics is at the center of the public discourse over coronavirus, not health. As a result, too many American patients suffered unnecessarily because the experts cared more for their ideology than they did the facts – they put myopic ideology over reality.

Perhaps the most important lesson from the pandemic is ‘feelings are not more important than facts’? Elected officials and government regulators must allow the science and the data to inform our public health agenda—i.e., scientific reality is more important than political narrative.

And, the reality is e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to health than tobacco and have the potential to help smokers quit smoking.

Jerry Rogers is the editor of RealClearHealth and the host of the 'Jerry Rogers Show' on WBAL NewsRadio. 

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