GENEVA: The results of a first-of-its-kind survey highlighted the potential of electronic cigarettes as an additional option for tobacco control and how vaping could have a substantial impact on public health, according to a vaping group.

“This groundbreaking survey clearly shows vaping helps smokers quit or reduce smoking. Its results are particularly relevant to with large number of smokers and a low smoking cessation rate.

Regulators and policymakers should look at the evidence for e-cigarettes with an open mind and start making science-based decisions to help reduce smoking, said Peter Paul Dator, president of The Vapers, a vaping advocacy group.

Dator was referring to the interview-based survey involving 3,000 vapers aged 18 and older from eight of the largest metropolitan cities in India. The vast majority of respondents (71.3 percent) used e-cigarettes to quit (30 percent) or reduce (41.3 percent) smoking.

Similar results were observed in smokeless tobacco (SLT) users. Most (79 percent) believe that e-cigarettes were less harmful than combustible cigarettes. Survey participants reported minimal side effects (cough, headache, dry mouth/throat) and some health benefits (improved general health, breathing, smell and taste) after they started vaping.

Around 81 percent of survey respondents were men and 19 percent were women, with average age of 29 years. The majority (80 percent) were first exposed to nicotine through combustible cigarette smoking, SLT use or both.

Leading tobacco harm reduction expert Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos and Indian researchers conducted the survey whose results were published on March 30, 2020 in Harm Reduction Journal.

The World Health Organization estimates that there were over 120 million smokers in India, accounting for almost 12 percent of the 1.1 billion smokers globally.

The 2016 to 2017 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) revealed that India had the second-lowest quit rate among GATS countries surveyed at the end of 2017.

It also showed that India has the second-largest tobacco consuming population in the world, estimated to be over 267 million, which included at least 100 million tobacco smokers and over 199 million SLT users.

According to Farsalinos and his co-authors, tobacco-related deaths in India were estimated to be over 1 million a year and were projected to rise to 1.5 million by 2020. They also pointed to the prevalence of smoking-related illnesses such as heart disease, lung cancer and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease in India.

“We all know that the combustion in cigarettes is what is harmful to the health of smokers. The harm from smoking is caused primarily through the toxins produced by the burning or combustion of tobacco. By contrast, non-tobacco, non-smoked nicotine products such as e-cigarettes are considerably less harmful,” Dator explained.

AP