The National Tobacco Reform Initiative (NTRI) is urging US health care professionals to embrace the concept of relative risk.
The NTRI said in a press note today that a recent report by the US’ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) had lessons also for public health advocates and officials outside the Food and Drug Administration.
‘We urge these professionals, within and outside government, to embrace the concept of relative risk,’ the press note said. ‘The science base clearly demonstrates that e-cigarettes represent less of a risk for smokers than continuing to smoke.’
The NTRI team is said to be made up of 10 senior and independent national smoking control leaders who, collectively, have provided decades of service fighting the tobacco epidemic.
“After fighting the tobacco epidemic for over five decades, we now have proven harm reduction methods to help us avoid a carnage in otherwise-preventable deaths,” NTRI team member, John Seffrin, PhD, was quoted as saying.
The NTRI said the much anticipated NASEM report on e-cigarettes supported the FDA’s bold new two-part nicotine strategy for product regulation, which comprised one, reducing the addictiveness and appeal of deadly combustible cigarettes; and, two, making safer alternative nicotine products available to addicted smokers.
‘There is an urgency to help smokers since one in two of them will die from a smoking-caused disease,’ the NTRI said. ‘This outcome can be prevented. ‘Cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products are substantially more harmful than non-combustible tobacco and nicotine products, such as e-cigarettes. The fundamental truth, that smoking – not nicotine – is responsible for most of the harm, and that smokers should have a variety of potentially less harmful nicotine-containing products if they want or need to continue using nicotine, is the keystone of FDA’s approach.
‘A careful reading of the Report (…Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes: Health and Medicine Division) leads to the following evidence-based conclusions:
- E-cigarettes are significantly less dangerous than lethal tobacco smoke;
- To date, there simply is no evidence of long-term-use damage to the heart or lungs;
- E-cigarettes use can help smokers reduce their risk of certain lethal diseases;
- E-cigarettes use can and has helped many smokers quit tobacco smoking completely;
- E-cigarettes can help reduce the risk of lethal disease in smokers who either can’t or won’t quit smoking tobacco completely.’
The NTRI said that now is the time to act.
And it presented a number of action points:
* Approach regulation of tobacco and nicotine products according to their relative risk;
* Educate smokers that nicotine delivered without smoke is a less harmful choice and that there are massive differences in risk across the products;
* Pursue regulations that work to enable smokers to switch completely to the much less hazardous non-combustible products such as snus, and e-cigarettes.
‘The NASEM Report and these evidence-based conclusions can help a consumer in making an informed choice about their use of nicotine products,’ the NTRI said.
This Report, along with FDA’s comprehensive nicotine strategy, demonstrate that we know enough to tell smokers that the most important thing they can do to improve their health is to stop inhaling smoke from burning tobacco products (like cigarettes, cigars, roll-your-own) into their lungs. And, if they continue to want to use nicotine, it is much better for their health to use it in a form that is not lit on fire and smoked.’
“Smokers have been horribly misled to believe e-cigarettes are as or are more harmful than smoking,” David Abrams, Professor of Global Public Health at New York University, was quoted as saying. “The truth can reassure those who want to switch”.