Vaping has been under a lot of scrutiny lately particularly in the United States. However, in the United Kingdom, it has accepted the use of electronic cigarettes as a tool that would help smokers get rid of their habit.
According to Public Health England’s advice, compared to smoking, vaping has fewer health risks. The Royal College of Physicians has also expressed their support of promoting e-cigarettes so that more and more people would try to quit smoking.
The United Kingdom’s push for people to embrace vaping comes a time when U.S. authorities have been slowly regulating the use of e-cigarettes. The U.S. is facing a vaping crisis with hundreds of people suffering from a mysterious lung disease. Some of the cases have resulted in deaths across the country.
The Federal Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration have gone as far as opening a criminal probe to look into the vaping illnesses. The U.S. Congress and other agencies are conducting their probes into the e-cigarette industry including the market-leading product, Juul.
According to the director of the U.K. Center for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, Dr. John Britton, the reaction of the United States to the vaping issue is complete madness.
“The reality with smoking is, if you tell people to stop vaping, they will go back to tobacco and tobacco kills,” adds Dr. Britton.
The regulation of e-cigarettes depends on each country. In the United Kingdom and France, these are considered as consumer products. In other parts of Europe like Australia, Germany, Italy, and Belgium, it falls under tobacco products. In more than 30 countries around the world, e-cigarettes have been banned. The latest country to totally ban e-cigarettes is India.
Since the e-cigarettes were first introduced in the United States back in 2007, there have not been regulated. It wasn’t until 2016 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was able to regulate e-cigarettes. To this day, the FDA is still working out the details.
In light of the recent issue with e-cigarettes in the U.S., the FDA’s acting commissioner, Dr. Ned Sharpless, was asked to appear in front of Congress and talk about the position of the agency regarding the matter.
“We do not consider these products safe, we think they have harm. We do not think really anyone should be using them other than people using them in place of combustible tobacco,” Dr. Ned Sharpless.
The British version of the Center for Disease Control, Public Health England, has said that vaping is about 95% less dangerous compared to smoking. This was even supported by Ash, an anti-tobacco charity. The organization has lobbied for e-cigarettes to be licensed as medicines and for it to be given to smokers trying to quit for free.
“We need radical solutions to stop smoking and one option is providing smokers with e-cigarettes so they can get the nicotine they need without the tobacco smoke. We have a much more relaxed attitude to people being addicted to nicotine on the basis that nicotine itself isn’t particularly hazardous,” said Britton.
Britain’s willingness to regulate e-cigarettes and promote it as a tool to stop smoking does not surprise Ryan Kennedy of the Institute for Global Tobacco Control at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
“What’s right for England might not be right for the U.S.,” said Kennedy.
“It’s not very surprising that a place like England has embraced e-cigarettes. A lot of things lined up to make sense to use these devices to help people transition away from cigarettes,” adds Kennedy.