Doctors now support vaping, told NZ Parliament
It’s always good when scientific evidence prevails over assumptions and unproven beliefs. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians has just announced its support for vaping as an acceptable means to stop smoking.
This announcement was made directly to the Health Select Committee of the New Zealand Parliament by Professor Chris Bullen on behalf of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP)
The highly respected Prof Bullen is from the University of Auckland, and is also the Director of the National Institute for Health Innovation. He is a leading expert in the area of tobacco control, and in particular, intervention-focused research on how to help more people who smoke to quit for good.
In key evidence, Prof Bullen explained that the position of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians had moved since more evidence has become available about electronic cigarettes.
“The evidence for vaping is growing. Our position is that vaping is not for non-smokers, but it is something that should be available for smokers who are keen to improve their health and move away from cigarette smoking.”
Prof Bullen said e-cigarettes have evolved rapidly, and of those available today, pod vaping devices are the most popular, with a sealed unit that contains nicotine salt.
“They have a low power setting to deliver rather very small volumes of material that people can inhale. They are much more discreet than the old products which tended to give rise to lots of cloud.”
“The quality of product now available is potentially pharmaceutical grade. Their ability to deliver nicotine is able to match that of the cigarette, so this is something the pharmaceutical industry's never been able to do with nicotine replacement products.
“For the first time smokers now have a product that can deliver nicotine. It’s not perfect and they are not safe products, but they are by all accounts, safer than smoking and I don't think there's any question about that.”
You can view Prof Bullen’s submission here.
Here is the verbatim transcript of Professor Chris Bullen giving evidence to the New Zealand Parliamentary Health Committee.
I'm Chris Paul and a public health physician and a member of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
So I'm speaking on behalf of the RACP. It’s a body that represents over 40 medical specialties in Australia and New Zealand and our submission reflects a strong concern that we have for the harms of tobacco smoking for New Zealanders particularly the health inequalities that result from smoking-related harm, excuse me. I don't have Covid 19 as far as I am aware.
So our submission you've had the opportunity to look at and essentially our position has moved since more evidence has become available about electronic cigarettes in particular.
So I was on a working party for the RACP several years ago in looking at this area and the college's view was quite negative and very cautious but since that time I think there has been a growing body of research evidence that gives us greater confidence in suggesting that for smokers e-cigarettes should be something that they should be encouraged to move towards if they can't directly quit smoking through the other established evidence-based means of smoking cessation support.
So our position is that vaping is not for non-smokers but it is something that should be available for smokers who are keen to improve their health and move away from cigarette smoking.
As I said the evidence for vaping is growing.
I lead the world's first randomized control trial of e-cigarettes comparing them with nicotine patches and it was in 2013 and in those days the e-cigarettes we tested we were pretty bad I have to say. The battery life was terrible. They looked like a sort of a slightly larger version than a normal cigarette.
Since then they've evolved very, very rapidly and in fact they are a class of product that's constantly changing and innovating and perhaps it's one of the successes of these products is that they do respond to consumer need and to changing technology.
So the e-cigarettes that we have available today are these pod devices the most popular and they have a sealed unit. They typically now have what's called nicotine salt hence the high concentration and they have a low power setting to deliver rather very small volumes of material that people can inhale and they are much more discreet I suppose than the old products which tended to give rise to lots of cloud.
It’s a good thing and a bad thing. I guess if you're thinking about young people they can covertly vape at the back of the classroom much more readily than they would have been five or ten years ago with the earlier products but the quality of product now available is potentially you know pharmaceutical grade solutions and much more sort of standardized quality products that can be obtained by people.
Their ability to deliver nicotine is able to match that of the cigarette so this is something the pharmaceutical industry's never been able to do with nicotine replacement products.
So for the first time smokers now have a product that can deliver nicotine.
It’s not perfect and they are not safe products, but they are by all accounts, safer than smoking and I don't think there's any question about that.
So our position is that they have a place and that they are for people who want to quit smoking and we should encourage them and particularly for population groups where our current mix of strategies has not been particularly helpful in bringing smoking rates down.
I'm thinking particularly of Maori women who are pregnant where there's both harm to the unborn child and to the mother. These are should be something that we should be looking at as part of our mix of support and help to help encourage those women to quit smoking to move away from harmful smoking which we know is largely due to the other substances in the smoke. It’s not their nicotine per se that's the major concern.
So in doing so, we think in making e-cigarettes more available we believe there's an opportunity to reduce some of the tobacco related health inequalities in New Zealand which contribute to several years of life expectancy difference and a whole host of other health consequences and so I guess we support the legislation broadly although we have a couple of issues where we think there are some loopholes that should be addressed and I can go through those if you like in brief. They relate to advertising and marketing and the lack of packaging regime for regulated products and online sales.
END OF TRANSCRIPT