French Experts Call for Tobacco Policy Rethink

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    Sixteen French doctors, researchers and medical professors have called for government support of vaping in response to a publication by the French High Council for Public Health last year, which was critical of the sector, according to the Independent European Vape Alliance.

    The article, by addiction researcher Benjamin Rolland and pulmonologist Sebastien Couraud published in Le Monde newspaper, equates the High Council’s anti-vape position with unscientific anti-vaccination arguments.

    The article evaluates public health policy developments to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and compares them with government measures to contain the tobacco “epidemic.” Vaccines have been available for more than a year to help reduce the number of infections and severe health damage. 

    Anti-vaxxers rejected these vaccines because there was the absence of information about the long-term effects despite the well-known significant risks of contracting Covid-19. Vaccines helped millions of people and saved a great many lives, but they could have saved many more had opposition to them not been as fierce, according to the article.

    The authors see a parallel to this development in the tobacco epidemic:

    “For many decades now, another pandemic has been raging—that of tobacco addiction. It is responsible for more than 8 million deaths per year (including 75,000 in France),” they write.

    Citing information from the international scientific consortium Cochrane, Rolland and Couraud suggest that e-cigarettes are among the most effective tools to wean smokers off cigarettes.

    However, opponents of vaping often deny the public health potential of reduced-risk alternatives. And their reasoning is reminiscent of the arguments of anti-vaxxers, according to the authors. “Some scientists, however, refuse to promote the vape because of the lack of perspective on the prolonged consequences of this new device in the name of the same precautionary principle as that mentioned above,” they write.

    Pointing to the high relapse rates among smokers seeking to quit with medical cessation devices—an estimated 70 percent to 80 percent of users return to smoking—the authors call on healthcare professionals to recommend e-cigarettes to smoking patients as a significantly less harmful alternative.