Misinformation glitch to HTP/ENDS switch

Ignorance brings chaos, not knowledge. -- Lucy

It is truly the most crippling fear of them all – the fear of the unknown.

People are simply afraid to make life-changing mistakes, and so most settle for what is available, established, given, the usual routine.

But provided the proper and adequate information, they can make sound decisions that could drastically alter their lifestyles for the better.

That’s why those in the information profession have a morally compelling duty to society to “communicate responsibly”.  

They have to get it right not only for the first time but all the time.

When public health, safety, and welfare depends on people’s judgment calls, fact-checking or verification is indeed critical, indispensable.  

But the challenge is not only to information providers but also the data consumers themselves.

Since they would be the ones making the ultimate decision, they should consider all options, no matter how  unconvincing, unreasonable, ridiculous or outlandish,

In short, we should all be open-minded but discerning.

A regional tobacco harm-reduction organization has warned that misleading and downright false information on e-cigarettes is stopping smokers from switching to the better nicotine alternative.

“The perception of harm from vaping is not consistent with the scientific evidence. Local public health experts should take the lead in providing Filipino smokers who cannot or do not want to quit smoking by themselves or with currently-approved methods with accurate scientific information on e-cigarettes and other better nicotine alternatives,” said Ms. Clarisse Virgino, Philippine representative to the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates.

CAPHRA is an alliance of consumer organizations from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand that aims to educate, advocate and represent the right of adult alternative nicotine consumers to access and use of products that reduce harm from tobacco use.

Virgino cited the latest Public Health England evidence update  which revealed that perceptions of harm from vaping among smokers are increasingly out of line with the evidence.

“The proportion [of smokers] who thought vaping was less harmful than cigarettes declined from 45 percent in 2014 to 34 percnt in 2019. These misperceptions are particularly common among smokers who do not vape. Increasingly incorrect perceptions among the public about the harms of vaping could prevent some smokers using vaping products to quit smoking,” the report stated.

In its 2018 independent evidence review, the PHE concluded that “e-cigarettes are around 95-percent safer than combustible cigarettes”.

Published in March 2020, the agency’s latest report stated: “Despite reductions in smoking prevalence, smoking remains the biggest single cause of preventable death and disease and a leading cause of health inequalities. So, alternative nicotine delivery devices that are less harmful could play a crucial role in reducing this health burden.” 

The PHE report found that vaping remains most common among smokers and former smokers in England, with less than one percent of people who have never smoked currently vaping. It noted that smoking among adults in England has continued to decline over the past 10 years and in 2019 was around 15 perent.

“The data presented…suggests that vaping has not undermined the declines in adult smoking.” 

The report pointed out that while not risk-free, “vaping regulated nicotine products has a small fraction of the risks of smoking,” and that “smokers should be encouraged to try regulated nicotine vaping products along with smoking cessation medications and behavioral support”, as these would “greatly increase their chances of successfully stopping smoking.”

The PHE reminded people who have never smoked not to smoke and not to vape while encouraging vapers to use regulated nicotine products only and stop smoking completely.

PHE is an executive agency of the UK Department of Health and Social Care, consisting of scientists, researchers and public health professionals who provide the UK Government, Parliament, National Health Service, industry and the public with evidence-based professional, scientific expertise and support.

There are an estimated 16 million Filipino smokers, with the country having a low four percent smoking-cessation rate.

Department of Health data show that almost 88,000 Filipinos die from smoking-related diseases every year. Healthcare expenditures and lost income due to smoking-related sickness and premature death cost the country P188 billion ($ 4 billion) yearly.

These figures only cover four of more than 40 smoking-related diseases namely lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, and stroke.

“The DoH should broaden its tobacco control strategy,” said Virgino. “Combustion in cigarettes, not nicotine, is what is harmful to the health of smokers. As such, Filipino smokers who would otherwise continue smoking should be encouraged to switch to less harmful nicotine alternatives such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. Doing so would significantly reduce smoking-related sickness and deaths in the country.”

She said e-cigs and heated tobacco products such as IQOS are forms of tobacco harm reduction.

“THR is a public health strategy that aims to provide safer alternatives to reduce harms caused by smoking and to provide nicotine to people who cannot or do not want to quit smoking by themselves or with currently-approved methods. Instead of sticking with the myopic ‘quit or die’ approach of the World Health Organization, the DoH should look at the emerging science and consider adopting THR in the country’s tobacco control strategy.”

THR is the key advocacy of CAPHRA, a regional alliance committed to educating, advocating and representing the right of adult alternative nicotine consumers to access and use of products that reduce harm from tobacco use. Its country representatives work with THR experts and advocates from around the world.

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray people.