NYU study shows FDA endorsement of vaping would save ‘millions of life years’
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally released its updated guidelines for the Pre-Market Tobacco Applications (PMTA) process last week, and vapers are growing increasingly concerned. Of the 401 applications submitted for approval in April 2019, only four received FDA approval, and each of those four applications were for Big Tobacco heat-not-burn technology. Meanwhile, the deadline for applications submissions is still be battled out in the courts, but the judge overseeing the case sis indicating that a 4-month timeline is not out of the question.
As the threats from government officials, politicians on Capitol Hill, and now the judiciary branch continue to escalate, scientists and public health experts from around the country are also becoming more vocal. A recently published study from New York University (NYU) researchers suggests that government endorsement of vaping as “substantially less harmful” than smoking would result in “millions of life years saved.”
“Under all but the most implausible scenarios, population simulation modeling estimates millions of life years saved by employing the principles of harm minimization and switching smokers to safer ANDS products. Replacement of most cigarette use by e-cigarette use over a 10-year period yields up to 6.6 million fewer premature deaths with 86.7 million fewer life years lost. America and the world need a candid smoking control champion—a figure like C. Everett Koop, Surgeon General during the first eight years of the AIDS epidemic—to get out the latest accurate information about reduced harm ANDS products that could save millions of smokers’ lives. Ethics and integrity in responsibly interpreting the scientific evidence with rigor and with common sense, demand it.”
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The NYU research is entitled Harm Minimization and Tobacco Control: Reframing Societal Views of Nicotine Use to Rapidly Save Lives (Annual Review of Public Health). According to the paper’s co-authors, smoking-related illness and disease is a leading cause of death in the United States as well as globally. Unfortunately, many average consumers and even many of the key decision-makers in Washington, DC are being deceived by massive amounts of misinformation being spread online and in mainstream media about the alleged dangers of vaping.
Nicotine is not tobacco, and vaping is not smoking
One of the core arguments that the anti-vaping establishment often makes is that teen vaping increases the risks of becoming an adult smoker in the future. The public outrage really began to escalate when when former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb labeled teen vaping as a national “epidemic.” Yet, government agencies still refuse to release scientific data that supports these alarming claims.
Though current research on this topic is rather limited, many reputable public health experts in the private sector are now speaking out against these allegations. Some are even suggesting that this widespread fear-mongering campaign may be a more devious attempt to kill the American vaping industry in favor of the very deep pockets of the Big Tobacco lobby. In an interview with Regulator Watch, Dr. Brad Rodu of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, has even accused the FDA of “cherry-picking” the facts to create a “fake epidemic” that is “vastly overblown.”
“The Numbers that U.S. regulators are basing their claims on simply aren’t available to the wider research community. The one thing we know for sure is that in 2017 vaping was increasing but at a modest rate. And a lot of the current frenzy about the ‘epidemic’ has been based on 2018 data, and unfortunately, only the FDA, the CDC, and other federal authorities have access to that data.”
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The NYU researchers take very special care to explain the differences between nicotine and tobacco, which evolves into a deeper discussion of the differences between vaping and smoking. The co-authors indicate that nicotine alone and in small doses is not toxic to the human body nor is it highly addictive, especially when compared to smoking combustible tobacco products. Furthermore, the e-liquids used in vaping are 100% tobacco-free, even though the FDA officially classifies them as “tobacco products.”
“When nicotine is decoupled from the deadly toxins in inhaled smoke, it is substantially less harmful. Most of the harm is due to the inhalation of combustion products [about 70 human carcinogens and other toxins in particulate matter (sometimes called ‘tars’) and carbon monoxide]. E-cigarette aerosol is very different. E-cigarettes do not contain any tobacco and do not produce carbon monoxide.”
The NYU study appears to be very detailed, thoroughly investigated, and peer-reviewed by hundreds of public health experts. The paper also contains a remarkable 144 resource references containing third-part documentation to support the co-authors’ claims. While the study falls short of outright accusing public health officials of intentionally creating a fake news event surrounding teen vaping, it also makes very clear that “the mistaken public beliefs that nicotine is the cause of disease risk and cancer, rather than the smoke from combustion, must be dispelled.”
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