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Aussie research encourages vaping over smoking for ‘severe mental illness’

Posted by Matt Rowland on

Current statistics signify that as many as 61 percent or two-thirds of Australian patients suffering from bipolar disorder and other severe mental illnesses are also addicted to smoking.   As a result, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is determined to find a resolution, and according to new research, that solution is vaping.

People suffering from mood disorders do not have the luxury of simply quitting smoking cold turkey, according to the co-authors of the report.  Because these types of patients have a dependence on nicotine that is “more severe,” the mental, physical, and emotional stress involved with quitting smoking can greatly exacerbate the symptoms of their related mood disorders.

Aussie research bolsters previous claims made by UK RCP

In a paper recently published by a team of scientists from Australia and New Zealand, vaping and electronic cigarettes are considered 95 percent less toxic than conventional cigarettes.  These findings mimic those previously published by the UK Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in August 2015 which cite almost the exact same statistics.  In fact, co-authors of the Aussie report Ratika Sharma, Coral E Gartner, David J Castle, and Colin P Mendelsohn even reference the RCP in their findings.

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The Aussie research entitled, Should we encourage smokers with severe mental illness to switch to electronic cigarettes?, was published on March 8, 2017 and is readily available for review on the Sage Journals website via the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.  The report suggests that the methodology of substituting vaping for smoking is analogous to traditional opiate substitution therapy so commonly used among addiction specialists,

“Smokers with SMI who are unable to quit smoking could benefit from long-term substitution of combustible tobacco with ‘clean’ nicotine product such as e-cigarettes (tobacco harm reduction). E-cigarettes deliver the nicotine to which smokers are addicted without the products of combustion that cause almost all the adverse health effects of smoking (Royal College of Physicians [RCP], 2016). E-cigarette vapour contains low levels of toxins, but the Royal College of Physicians estimates the long-term risk from e-cigarette use (vaping) as likely to be no more than 5% of smoking tobacco (RCP, 2016). Similar harm reduction strategies are widely used for other harmful behaviours, such as the opiate substitution therapy and clean needle exchange to reduce risks from intravenous opiate use.”

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Coincidentally, an American physician who also just happens to be an addiction specialist has very recently gone public with his assertions that vaping should be promoted rather than demonized, especially in rehabilitation centers where recovery addicts begin their journey towards long-term sobriety. In an Op-Ed for the Salt Lake Tribune, Dr. Terry Sellers from Orem, Utah, issued the following statement.

“People with drug or alcohol dependency have a higher rate of dependency on cigarettes and because most treatment facilities don't allow for smoking, e-vapor products are often a useful and safer method for them to lessen this dependence. My professional experience is that e-vapor products are potentially an effective tool in reducing smoking and could be a less harmful alternative at that. Given the choice between cigarettes and e-vapor products, the choice is very clear — e-vapor products are a worthwhile alternative.”

(Related Article:  ADDICTION DOCTOR TELLS CONGRESS: ‘SUPPORT COLE-BISHOP BILL’ TO REPEAL FDA DEEMING REGULATIONS)

However, just like in the United States, pro-vaping medical studies such as this latest from the Aussie team have their fair share of detractors.   The anti-vaping group Cancer Council Australia is publicly taking the direct opposite opinion.  According to the Australian Associated Press, this agency openly rejects the idea that vaping is healthier than smoking in any significant way.

The more things change, the more things stay the same…no matter where you live.


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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily represent the viewpoints, policy or company position of Vapes.com, the rest of our staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.



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