By mid-2020 –
scientific articles had been published on SNP
There are fewer publications on other SNP. There were only three publications on HTP in 2015; 26 in 2016; 31 in 2017; 90 in 2018; 95 in 2019; and 48 in 2020. In total there were 293 publications on HTP between January 2015 and April 2020.
On snus there were 27 publications in 2015; 61 in 2016; 47 in 2017; 42 in 2018; 53 in 2019 and 13 in 2020. In total, 243 publications on snus from January 2015 to April 2020.
But more science does not always mean better science or better science communication. Poorly formulated and designed research, over-cooked announcements of research results, over-hyped university press releases and an uncritical media with an appetite for bad news stories create confusion among the general public, smokers and users of SNP and health professionals. Taking a balanced view of any issue is not a question of giving equal weight to both sides but making a calculation based on the most robust and credible evidence.
There is also a wider issue of what might be termed ‘nicotine illiteracy’ which goes beyond anti-THR rhetoric: a belief among health professionals and the public that nicotine is carcinogenic.75,76,77
When a smoker draws on a cigarette, the temperature at the tip rises from about 700 degrees centigrade to 900 degrees – enough to melt metals including aluminium and lead – releasing some 7,000 detected compounds, of which at least 70 are carcinogens. Tobacco is also combusted in cigars, cigarillos and pipes. It is these toxins which create (once water and nicotine are filtered out of the smoke) tar, which is one of the main factors contributing to cancer and other cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. No other way of consuming nicotine comes close to the dangers posed by smoking, as the chart below shows.
No other way of consuming nicotine comes close to the dangers posed by smoking.
Regarding vaping devices and based on a comprehensive evidence review, Public Health England (PHE) confirmed in its 2020 report their earlier conclusion that:
“Vaping poses only a small fraction of the risk of smoking and switching completely from smoking to vaping conveys substantial health benefits over continued smoking. Based on current knowledge stating that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking remains a good way to communicate the large difference in relative risk so that more smokers are encouraged to make the switch from smoking to vaping.”78
With HTP, the situation is slightly different because tobacco is involved and is heated (at different temperatures depending on the device) although never above 350°C, and so below the combustion temperature of cigarettes. It is crucial to demonstrate that no combustion occurs with HTP. This can be done by showing that the devices work in the absence of oxygen. An independent assessment, conducted for New Zealand’s Ministry of Health, confirmed that no combustion occurs in the heated tobacco product IQOS when used as intended.79
“Based on current knowledge stating that vaping is at least
95% less harmful than smoking remains a good way to communicate
the large difference in relative risk so that more smokers are encouraged
to make the switch from smoking to vaping.”
– Public Health England
It has been known for almost three decades that those who avoid smoking cigarettes – known as chewers and dippers and those who use snus – eliminate about 98 per cent of the risks associated with smoking.90 The risks are so small that even large epidemiologic studies with hundreds of thousands of users cannot provide indisputable evidence that smokeless tobacco (ST) causes any specific disease.91 With risks that small, it is not possible to prove that one kind of dip, chew or snus is safer than the other92.
The risks are so small that even large epidemiologic studies with hundreds of thousands of users cannot provide indisputable evidence that smokeless tobacco (ST) causes any specific disease.
The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factor Study provides a comprehensive assessment of risk factor exposure and attributable burden of disease. For example, the 2016 study states:
The use of snus in Sweden provides a real-world proof of concept for THR using SNP and one that could potentially deliver significant benefits in those regions where more dangerous smokeless products have become culturally embedded.98
Snus use in Sweden is high compared to smoking, enabling the country to enjoy the lowest rate of smoking-related mortality in Europe and half the average EU rate for smoking-related disease. The low levels of smoking mean there are low levels of respiratory disease linked with inhalation. Additionally, the epidemiological evidence is that snus is not associated with diabetes, oral and pancreatic cancers, or cardiovascular disease. 99,100,101,102,103,104
A key health issue that has arisen since our 2018 report was the outbreak of serious lung injuries and deaths in the US.
From around March-April 2019, cases of lung disease (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue and vomiting) emerged in Illinois and Wisconsin with a rapid increase in reporting occurring in August and September across the US. The first death occurred on 23 August 2019. As of March 2020, just under 3,000 people had been hospitalised with around 70 deaths. There have been no confirmed deaths outside the US.
Early official public health reporting called the outbreak ‘e-cigarette’ or vaping product associated lung injury or EVALI, leading many to believe that conventional nicotine vaping products were responsible. It soon became clear that a more appropriate name would have been vitamin E-related lung injury or VITERLI because the substance doing the damage was vitamin E acetate. This oil-based substance has never been detected in ordinary nicotine e-liquid, which is water-based.
People affected by VITERLI were inhaling vaporised cannabis (THC) oil to which vitamin E acetate had been added to give the appearance in texture and colour of a highquality oil in illicitly manufactured THC cartridges. Some of those hospitalised initially claimed they had been vaping nicotine liquid, but subsequent questioning and testing found substantial under-reporting of marijuana, likely due in part to use still being illegal in many parts of the US.107 The cannabis website Leafly charted the causes of the outbreak and first exposed the multi-billion dollar industry producing and selling illicit THC oil and fake THC vaping devices and associated accessories.108,109,110
To the astonishment of many vapers and THR professionals, in 2020 the CDC lung injury team was nominated for a Service to America award for its response to the outbreak. By contrast, many critics thought that the CDC took advantage of its existing opposition to vaping to spread fear and misinformation. Media reporting in the US and around the world “contributed to regulatory overreactions to nicotine vaping by the public health community”.112 This misreporting continued even after the CDC finally revealed that the vaping of illicit THC was causing the deaths and injuries.113
25th July: Wisconsin Department of Health Services sends a memo to healthcare providers concerning severe pulmonary disease among adolescents who reported vaping and other ‘inhalant drug use’. Types of products used were unknown and patient interviews ongoing.
12th August: California Department of Public Health issues an alert to the effect that “reported common exposure among these patients is that they have been vaping cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) oils. At this time, no infectious cause has been identified.”
23rd August: Brian King of the CDC Office on Smoking and Health tells reporters:
“…there’s a variety of harmful ingredients identified [in nicotine vaping products], including things like ultrafine particulates, heavy metals like lead, and cancer-causing chemicals. And flavoring used in e-cigarettes to give it a buttery flavor, diacetyl, and it’s been related to severe respiratory illness. That being said, we haven’t specifically linked any of those specific ingredients to the current cases, but we know that e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless.”
Meanwhile there had been 193 acute lung injury cases and 1 death. In all cases, illicit THC oil cartridges had been identified as the specific product most likely responsible.
28th August: USA Today reports: “People are vaping THC. Lung injuries being reported nationwide. Why is the CDC staying quiet?”
5th September: New York Times reports that, “The state said that the Vitamin E compound was found in tests of cannabis products, but not in the nicotine-based products it tested, a finding consistent with reports from doctors that many illnesses have been linked to people using a vaping device for marijuana.”
6th September: Despite the growing body of evidence about the true cause of the outbreak, the CDC tell the Washington Post that when it came to clinical tests, ‘‘We don’t know what we’re looking for”.
4th October: Tentative FDA warning not to vape THC.
25th October: Despite 33 deaths directly linked to vaping THC, the CDC tell reporters, “We recommend that you do not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC. And since the specific compounds or ingredients causing lung injury are not yet known, the only way to be sure that you are not at risk is to consider refraining from use of all e-cigarette, or vaping, products while our investigation continues.”
8th November: New York Times reports that the CDC has finally linked the illnesses and deaths to vitamin E. However, allegations against nicotine vaping products continue: “Nicotine has not been exonerated… Some patients say they vaped only nicotine, and state health officials consider some of those reports reliable”.
25th February: CDC says that “... Adults using nicotine-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products as an alternative to cigarettes should not go back to smoking... If they choose to use e-cigarettes as an alternative to cigarettes, they should completely switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes and not partake in an extended period of dual use of both products that delays quitting smoking completely...”. 114
How does vitamin E specifically cause damage? Vitamin E acetate disrupts the function of the lungs’ fluid lining, impeding oxygen transfer, and triggering a progressive and severe immune reaction. Some reports indicate a person’s lungs can begin to lose function as quickly as a week after exposure to THC oil heavily cut with vitamin E acetate.
[The evidence] did not prevent US anti-THR activists, federal agencies and politicians using the VITERLI outbreak as a way to further their agenda and call for bans.
Local public health authorities identified the root cause of the problem from the outset. This did not prevent US anti-THR activists, federal agencies and politicians using the VITERLI outbreak as a way to further their agenda and call for bans. A lesson to be learned is that banning products already in wide circulation allows a criminal market in unregulated and potentially dangerous products to step in.
Health concerns about nicotine vaping products focus on the effects of vapour constituent deposits in the mouth, upper airway and lungs and the overall effects on bodily functions of vapour inhalation.115 These constituents include nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine and flavours.
Nicotine is a psychoactive substance, but at commonly used dose levels, short-term nicotine use does not result in clinically significant harm116 while the long-term adverse effects are also likely to be minimal.117,118
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) nicotine is not a carcinogen119 and a US Surgeon General’s report concluded nicotine does not contribute to respiratory diseases.120
Tobacco smoke and vapour follow the same pathway into the mouth and upper airway, through the gastrointestinal tract and are then excreted. The deposit and absorption of smoke-derived carcinogens increase the cancer risk impacting on various organs but, given the very low level of potential carcinogens in vapour, the risk – either relative or absolute – is low.
There is the possibility of vapour-induced lung irritation and the attendant increased risk of adverse respiratory impact in people with hypersensitivities to certain chemicals. However, many smokers who switch report improvements in lung function.121,122 A study by Jacob George and colleagues concluded that consumers of vaping products, especially women, “demonstrate significant improvement in vascular health within 1 month of switching [from smoking cigarettes to vaping]”.123
Regarding propylene glycol in vaping products, apart from possible minor irritation, there are no other known harmful effects, while animal studies have failed to demonstrate harmful effects on the lungs of inhaling glycerine. Lower incidence of airway infections of smokers who had switched to vaping products has been reported.124,125
A widely-cited study claimed to have detected an excessive presence of metals in vapour.126 However, the authors evaluated the exposure to metals in vapour in terms of total air breathed on a daily basis, when vapers are only exposed while vaping, which is typically 150–200 four- to six-second puffs per day, that is, an exposure of 12–16 minutes per day.127
Concerns have been expressed about the safety of some ingredients used in creating flavours. These are industry standard ingredients for oral consumption in food, but can be risky when inhaled, including diacetyl and acetyl propionyl (used in sweet/buttery flavours), although there are other safer compounds producing a buttery flavour.128 There has been much media coverage of a condition known as ‘popcorn lung’ (bronchiolitis obliterans), suffered by employees working in popcorn factories who have been exposed to high levels of this compound.
The symptoms, such as coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing, might be indistinguishable from the effects of long-term smoking in a vape consumer who had switched, although exposure levels would be several orders of magnitude lower than a factory environment. This respiratory condition has never been reported in vapers. Even so, manufacturers are now avoiding flavours that contain diacetyl: in the EU it is now banned. There has been some debate about cinnamon flavours (which cannot be reproduced using anything but cinnamaldehyde), but evidence again suggests this is primarily an occupational health issue in the factory environment where large quantities are used.
Other chemical components in vaping liquids are generated when the liquid is heated, including formaldehyde and acrolein, while the device and the device elements can also release aerosolised particles of metal, ceramic and rubber when heated. Exposure is well below recognised safety thresholds but could be reduced still further by improved manufacturing standards.129
A 2017 study by Dr William Stephens from the Department of Earth and Environmental Studies at St Andrews University in Scotland calculated that vaping has 0.4 per cent of the cancer risk of smoking (99.6 per cent risk reduction).130,131
Following hard on the heels of the lung-injury scare, those opposed to THR were only too keen to launch warnings linking vaping to more severe outcomes or susceptibility to COVID-19.
A few studies have shown an association between vaping and lung inflammation which led some to suggest that vapers might be more susceptible to COVID-19. These studies were the result of exposing cell cultures or rats, or small samples of vapers who were invariably ex- or current smokers, to vapour. Longitudinal studies studying vaping in real world situations have not replicated laboratory studies in respect of vaping and lung inflammation or infections.132
Moreover, early research has suggested that nicotine could be a protective factor against initial COVID-19 infection and disease progression meaning that smokers are less likely to test positive for COVID-19133 and less likely to be admitted to hospital but, if admitted, have worse outcomes. This has led to a theory that nicotine could be a protective factor as the person would no longer have access to nicotine.134,135,136,137
The hypothesis of the protective effect of nicotine is based on (1) the possibility that the interaction of nicotine with nicotinic receptors in the brain might inhibit the proteins that allow the virus to attach to cells and (2) the possibility that nicotine could inhibit the over-reaction of the immune system (the so-called cytokine storm) that in most cases ends up producing massive lung inflammation that overwhelms and kills very ill patients.
To our knowledge, there is no data on vaping status in any of the many published studies on hospitalised or seriously ill COVID-19 patients. It is highly likely that in the chaos of the pandemic, doctors asked patients about smoking status (as they are well used to doing, especially in respiratory care), but that they may not have asked about vaping. This lack of data is problematic for our understanding of any potential interaction between susceptibility to and progress of COVID-19 and vaping status; it is also extremely difficult to disaggregate health impacts that relate to past smoking or present vaping. The medical profession should be encouraged to ask all COVID-19 patients about current and past smoking status and current and past vaping status in order to get the fullest possible picture – which may yet take some considerable time to emerge.
Vaping devices emit ‘vapour’, a mist-like aerosol. The user absorbs about 90 per cent of the inhaled vapour (86 per cent of glycerol, 92 per cent of propylene glycol, 94 per cent of nicotine and 97 per cent of aldehydes).138,139
The exhaled vapour released into the environment is an extremely diluted aerosol whose gas phase is propylene glycol, glycerol and water vapour, with residual doses of pollutants (aldehydes). There are misleading mentions in environmental studies about the presence of harmful fine and hyper fine ‘particles’ in this aerosol, creating concerns by equating them to suspended particles of air pollution or cigarette smoke.140
“To date, there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to bystanders.” – Public Health England
However, large clouds of vapour can cause concern among passers-by who might equate this with cigarette smoke and be concerned about the possible effects of their own inhalation. Large clouds of vapour, for example, when many vapers are vaping high powered devices, can irritate the throat in enclosed spaces, (incidentally, this does not occur with low powered devices or when only one or two vapers are vaping). Many vapers are reasonably discreet about their use, adopting ‘stealth vaping’, by inhaling less vapour and holding it in.
The arrival of JUUL on the US market has been another major vaping-related news story since our last report, with exaggerated claims of a teenage ‘vaping epidemic’ prompting knee-jerk flavour bans across the US and elsewhere.
Cigarette smoking has been falling in the US for many years including among young people. When vaping products began to appear on the market, it was inevitable that some young people would want to experiment. This led to claims from the FDA, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) and others that vaping was a gateway to smoking as the industry tried to compensate for falling numbers of younger smokers by promoting new products. Yet as the graph shows, cigarette smoking among young people has continued to fall, even while experimentation with vaping devices has been increasing. The goalposts shifted; the claim now from the same bodies is of a vaping “epidemic” among young people which would lead to a future generation of nicotine “addicts”. JUUL certainly attracted a lot of interest from some young people when it launched during 2018-19, while the company itself faced accusations of marketing the device to young adults and selling flavours that appeared to be targeting that same younger audience.
However, a study by Allison Glasser and colleagues from New York University (NYU) College of Global Public Health looked at the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey of 20,000 middle and high school students and concluded that:
Most youth who do vape are current or former smokers and many are also vaping THC.
While it might be preferable for young people not to vape, from a health point of view, it is preferable that if young people are going to consume nicotine, better they vape than smoke. The NYU researchers also discovered that over 40 per cent of those students who vaped also smoked cannabis. This research and other studies point to what are called ‘shared risk factors’ linking vaping, smoking and the use of cannabis among young people.152,153,154
If there was any evidence of nicotine-related brain damage in young people, it would have been noted over the many decades of smoking research.
Many people quit smoking without recourse to professional help or medical products. Others may combine a range of interventions in a bid to end their smoking habit. Availability of and access to these interventions differs significantly between countries, national health systems and individual socioeconomic status.
NRT first appeared in the US in 1984 and over time, various products have come onto the market: patches, chewing gum lozenges, sprays and inhalers. NRT is included in the WHO Essential Medicines List. The principle behind them is that they replace the nicotine, while the smoker perhaps engages with a counselling or stop smoking service for behavioural help in quitting cigarettes.156 Using more than one NRT product plus counselling within a stop smoking service has been shown to be more effective than just buying NRT at the pharmacy with no other support. NRT products are produced by the pharmaceutical industry; lead players include Pfizer, Novartis, Cipla, Johnson and Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline.
There are two main pharmacotherapeutic options; varenicline (marketed as Champix and Chantix) and bupropion (marketed as Zyban and Wellbutrin). Unlike NRT, these drugs aim to suppress the nicotine craving. Champix works by interfering with nicotine receptors in the brain, preventing the person both from experiencing pleasure and suppressing nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Zyban was initially used to treat depression in patients and also works by diminishing the chemicals in a person’s brain that are responsible for cravings and withdrawal symptoms. As with any drugs, both come with a range of possible side-effects and contra-indications.
There are a several ways out of smoking and people will use a combination of interventions. But for many, these options do not work or do not work over time. For most, the reason is that NRT and drugs do not replicate the smoking experience, and ‘medicalise’ smoking, which many smokers find unacceptable. Smokers do not necessarily regard themselves as ‘ill’ simply because they smoke.
Overall, the relapse rates from smoking remain high. As O’Leary and Polosa point out, even for those who do quit smoking, relapse is the norm. For unsupported quit attempts, 80 per cent relapse in the first month and for smokers undergoing treatment, 75 per cent fail within six months, with the large majority resuming smoking within two weeks. The same high relapse rates occur in women in pregnancy and post-delivery and either gender on being discharged from hospital. Even a successful one-year quit does not ensure that abstinence has been achieved as 30 to 40 per cent of former tobacco smokers will eventually relapse. “Consequently, there is a pressing need for alternative and more efficient means to reduce or prevent harm in those who return to smoking”.157
Peter Hajek and colleagues undertook a study whereby nearly 900 smokers who wanted to quit were randomly assigned to NRT or vaping devices plus counselling. The trial ran from 2015–2018 with a one-year follow-up.159 They found:
“Smokers using e-cigarettes suffered less cigarette withdrawal discomfort early on and had higher quit rates at all time points. At 1 year, 10 per cent of participants in the NRT trial arm had been abstinent for the whole year compared with 18 per cent in the e-cigarette arm; regarding abstinence for at least 6 months, the figures were 12 per cent in NRT and 21 per cent in the e-cigarette arm. Of interest, coughs and phlegm production also reduced more in people quitting with e-cigarettes, than those quitting with NRT. This supports previous reports that an ingredient in e-cigarettes (i.e. propylene glycol) may protect vapers from airborne infection. E-cigarette starter packs cost much less than NRT and so if SSS (stop smoking services) provide them, their use is likely to boost the success rates and reduce the costs of SSSs.”
As we have outlined, it is LMIC which bear the brunt of the smoking epidemic. Smokers in these countries would be better served if health professionals felt confident to recommend SNP options for those who want to quit smoking. Unfortunately, doctors are being advised against encouraging these options, by researchers and NGOs often from high-income countries, peddling misinformation about the dangers of SNP.160
Therefore, doctors in LMIC are being advised to stick to approved cessation medications when the health systems in many of these countries cannot afford to buy them. Smitha Sarma and colleagues conducted a survey in Kerala, India, and found smoking cessation medications were not available in public hospitals and even in those services offering cessation services. They were only partly available in private and semi-private pharmacies, meaning the poorest people with more acute problems were denied access.161 As the majority of tobacco users in India do not smoke industry cigarettes but local varieties, including smoke-free products, this suggests that the ready availability of affordable snus-style smokeless products could have significant beneficial health impacts, not only across India but also other countries in the region with similar tobacco-using profiles.
The harms of smoking during pregnancy include low birth weight, pre-term delivery, increased risk of malformations, respiratory disease and childhood cancers. Cigarette smoke carries all the risks, so it is reasonable to assume that smokeless products carry less risk. The most recent study looking at this issue comes from Glover and Phillips162 who reviewed the evidence on pregnancy outcomes and smokeless tobacco products.
They identified an initial tranche of 500 studies of which only 21 passed muster to be included. Of the 21 studies reviewed, 12 reported on the use of nicotine replacement therapies, seven on Swedish snus, one on Alaskan iq’mik,163 and one on vaping products.
The authors contend that it is not possible to give pregnant women definitive advice on safety, except to say the use of smoke-free nicotine products will almost certainly have less effect on pregnancy outcomes than smoking. They also conclude that if a pregnant woman would otherwise smoke, there is no evidence to deny her access to smoke-free products.
This is similar to the conclusions of the UK’s Royal College of Midwives, whose position statement on support for smoking cessation during pregnancy stated:
The focus on addiction to nicotine as the main risk to young people has gained ground since the last report.
The illustration is a collage of pre-Second World War American newspapers. It shows that in the hands of the supernatural ‘drug fiend’, drugs like cocaine and heroin become disease vectors, infecting young people with the virus of addiction and – ultimately – destroying their lives.
Dependency on drugs like cocaine and heroin can and does destroy lives. But this does not apply to nicotine. Yes, lives can be destroyed by smoking and the deaths and disease it causes – but as millions of consumers of SNP around the world would testify, lives have not been destroyed by nicotine, neither physically nor mentally.
Addiction is an ill-defined concept which has been applied to many substances and activities; the whole range of psychoactive drugs, both legal and illegal; gambling; shopping; sex; eating; or playing computer games.
When deemed to be out of control and adversely affecting other areas of life, all these are classified by the medical profession as psychiatric conditions. From a commonsense, real-world point of view, however, there is a clear difference between injecting heroin and buying inordinate pairs of shoes.
In the case of nicotine, from a neuro-biological standpoint, it is a mild stimulant drug which binds to the equivalent receptors in the brain like a key fitting into a lock. Once locked in, nicotine stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine which is crucial to the reward and reinforcement effects that constitute the drug experience.
Simply put, dopamine could be called ‘the good time chemical’; it is responsible not just for the pleasure people derive from intoxication,165 but also for sexual gratification and the satisfaction of eating, without which humans would die out.
As the Royal College of Physicians report pointed out, however, the rewards and reinforcement of smoking are not just about the specific drug/brain interaction, although of course, the brain has a role to play in all our sensory experiences:
“Continued pairing of the rewarding/reinforcement pairing with specific and sensory and environmental stimuli (which for example, could include the smell of tobacco or the sight of a packet of cigarettes) results in these stimuli also acquiring reinforcing properties.”166
This could also involve certain rituals like the first cigarette in the morning, or always having a smoke with a drink or a meal.
From that point of view, nicotine is ‘addictive’; people say they crave cigarettes, get ‘withdrawal symptoms’, feel agitated and irritable and find it hard to concentrate if they run out.
Influenced strongly by the psychiatric and rehabilitation industries, addiction is viewed in society as a disease caused by the brain being ‘hijacked’.
None of these apply to the use of nicotine on a regular, long-term basis. In fact, people use nicotine to help them in everyday activities like focusing on work. There is some evidence that nicotine might have a role to play in helping those with dementia.167
In the public mind, the word ‘addiction’ conjures up a life in chaos and ruin, where the drug becomes all-consuming, where family and friends, school, college or job, everything in the person’s life, takes second place behind securing the next dose which (in the case of illegal drugs) may also involve criminal activity.
‘Addiction’ to nicotine falls far short of the addiction criteria set out in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
This is an important point: in many countries where SNP are available, the law demands prominent warnings on packaging about addiction. But is this really a serious clinical issue? Or is it more an attempt to shame people who use nicotine into feeling guilty? Smokers often cite the guilt and shame of being ‘addicted’ to nicotine as a reason for trying to quit. People who say they want to stop smoking will sometimes object to switching to SNP as they identify a continued addiction to nicotine to be some sort of failure. But for the many people who are unable or unwilling to give up their use of nicotine, it would be invidious to allow guilt and shame about nicotine ‘addiction’ to inhibit quit or switch attempts using SNP.
For the many people who are unable or unwilling to give up their use of nicotine, it would be invidious to allow guilt and shame about nicotine ‘addiction’ to inhibit quit or switch attempts using SNP.
There should be no doubt that using a vaping device, a HTP or specific smokeless products presents substantially less risk to the smoker who wants to switch away from cigarettes, but who wants the nicotine experience unavailable through NRT. The hope was that all those involved in public health and tobacco control would regard this third way out of smoking as a welcome addition to existing anti-smoking interventions.
Unfortunately, the advent of SNP has provoked the opposite reaction. The public health imperative to reduce the disease and death toll from smoking has arguably been side-lined in favour of a moral crusade against nicotine. This playbook aims to sow confusion about the health benefits of SNP and conflates THR with long-standing attempts by the tobacco industry to influence tobacco control policy. In doing so, researchers and THR activists are smeared as functionaries of Big Tobacco.