The Possible future of Vaping

The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR) publishes a biennial report that charts the distribution and regulation of safer nicotine products worldwide. The latest edition, entitled "The Right Side of History," reflects on the historical trajectory of tobacco harm reduction. This report provides a succinct summary of the report and examines the key points raised in the article.

The Harm of Tobacco

Smoking is a global public health crisis that causes eight million deaths annually, a number surpassing those caused by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined (GSTHR, 2022). The extent of the problem is often understated, with approximately 75,000 smoking-related deaths per year in England alone. Smoking poses a significant risk to nearly every organ in the human body, and there is no safe exposure to tobacco smoke.

Before the advent of Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRTs), individuals were limited to either continuing to smoke or abruptly discontinuing the habit. NRTs, however, have offered smokers a range of safer options to aid in their cessation efforts. GSTHR estimates indicate that over 112 million people worldwide currently use NRTs, with 4.3 million of those individuals residing in England.

The Evolution of Tobacco Harm Reduction

While smoking has been a prevalent practice for millennia, it was not until the 1950s that the dangers of smoking were fully recognized. It was not until the 1970s that scientists discovered that nicotine was responsible for the addictive properties of tobacco. One of the first forms of NRTs was the Swedish invention of 'snus,' a nicotine pouch placed under the lips or tongue. The popularity of snus demonstrated the potential health benefits of NRTs on a population scale.

In 2003, a Chinese pharmacist named Hon Lik developed a method for vaporizing nicotine solution that mimicked smoking but was significantly safer. In 2004, the company for which Hon Lik worked began selling these devices, giving rise to vaping.

The Rise of Vaping and TECC.co.uk

In 2008, the founder of TECC.co.uk, Jason Cropper, recognized the potential of these emerging products from China to save millions of smokers' lives. He established The Electronic Cigarette Company and began selling e-liquid. In 2009, the first devices went on sale, marking the beginning of a journey at the forefront of the vaping revolution. Cropper worked closely with Chinese companies such as Joyetech and Eleaf to bring safer alternatives to smoking to the United Kingdom. It was during these early years that vapers began sharing their successes with communities online and in person.

As vaping gained popularity, governing bodies began to take notice and implemented regulations to protect vapers from harmful products. One such regulation was the first draft of the EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) in 2013, which is still in use today and became the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 in the UK.

Health organizations also began to acknowledge the relative benefits of vaping. The NHS, the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, and Cancer Research UK all concluded that vaping is approximately 95% less harmful than smoking and began promoting it as a safer alternative.

However, the road to acceptance was not without obstacles. The tobacco industry and affiliated organizations soon began to impede progress.

Stigma, Misinformation, and Doubt - The Major Barriers to Vaping

Misinformation about vaping has been pervasive in recent years, with myths about vaping-related illness and death still circulating. The unfounded concern of 'popcorn lung' is still a prevalent issue among smokers and new vapers, despite scientific evidence disproving it