Medical group RACGP endorses vaping, says it’s no different than other NRTs

Led by Dr. Colin Mendelsohn of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Australia, a new study indicates that for countries were vaping is legal, national smoking rates are in sharp decline. Co-authored by Professor Wayne Hall of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research in Brisbane and Professor Ron Borland of the University of Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, the paper further endorses e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool.

“Vaping appears to be lowering smoking rates in countries that allow its use. Vaping nicotine increases success rates for smoking cessation as demonstrated in RCTs and confirmed in population-based studies. The population impact of vaping is amplified because of its popularity with smokers. Vaping has had a wide uptake in communities where it is allowed and has reached more smokers than quitting aids such as NRT.
“There is evidence that vaping has increased quit attempts and reduced national smoking rates in the UK and USA, where the decline in prevalence of smoking has accelerated. This contrasts with countries such as Australia with restrictive vaping policies where such declines in prevalence are not being observed.”

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This is the first study of its kind by Australian scientists to focus almost exclusively on the potential benefits of nicotine-based vaping for smokers who are trying to quit.  Immediately upon the publication of the research in the medical journal Drug and Alcohol Review, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ (RACGP) issued a press release announcing its official endorsement of electronic cigarettes and vapor products.  But the statement went a bit further. 

RACGP:  There is “no significant difference’ between vaping and other NRTs

The RACGP also released an extensive set of guidelines for recommended use by healthcare professionals which illustrates how physicians, nurses, and counselors should communicate with patients about both the benefits and dangers of vaping. One of the more noteworthy recommendations not only endorses e-cigs as a smoking cessation aid, it also emphasizes that there is essentially no difference between nicotine-based vapor products and the more traditional nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) like nicotine patches, gums, and lozenges.

“Recommendation 7: Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) (as monotherapy) should be recommended to all dependent smokers. There is no significant difference in effectiveness of different forms of NRT in achieving cessation (Strength: A) – combination NRT has been found to be more effective and is now preferred over monotherapy.”

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Much like the historic Mendelsohn study, the RACGP’s publication of its new national smoking cessation guidelines is also unprecedented.  Over the past few years, Australian lawmakers have been engaged in a rather heated debate with a collectively indecisive medical community over whether e-cigarettes should be criminalized.

Since the publication of the recent Mendelsohn report, the RACGP along with the support of the UK Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and the New Zealand Medical Association are publicly acknowledging that vaping saves lives.  This action is truly impressive considering that just a couple of short years ago, the Australian government was just a stone’s throw away from banning vaping altogether.

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