GLOBAL experts on tobacco control policy shared their insights on e-cigarettes and tobacco harm reduction with members of the Joint Trade and Health committee of the House of Representatives during a committee hearing last Dec. 10.
The hearing tackled several bills seeking to regulate the manufacture, importation, packaging, use, sale, distribution, and advertisement of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products.
Clive Bates, a former director of the United Kingdom’s main anti-smoking organization Action on Smoking and Health and a longstanding advocate of rational tobacco control policies, sent a 31-page comment on e-cigarettes and tobacco harm reduction to committee chairs Weslie Gatchalian and Helen Tan via e-mail.
In his testimony before the committee, Dr. Konstantinos E. Farsalinos presented comprehensive evidence on e-cigarettes and recommended regulatory actions. He emphasized that a risk-proportionate and realistic regulatory framework will help maximize the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes or vapes) as an effective harm reduction and smoking cessation strategy for the promotion of public health.
Farsalinos is an adjunct professor at King Abdulaziz University and a Researcher at Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, University of Patras, and National School of Public Health in Greece.
Addictions psychotherapist Andrew da Roza also appeared before the committee to share his insights. He said that new technologies give public health policy a unique opportunity to eliminate cigarettes in a single generation.
He added that “we can have a smoke-free world if we use heat-not-burn products and if we use e-cigarette products.” Da Roza holds a masters’s degree in counseling from Monash University in Australia and a Master of Science degree in addictions from King’s College, London University.
Bates, who has no conflicts of interest with the tobacco, e-cigarette, or pharmaceutical industries, stressed that “beyond any reasonable doubt, e-cigarettes are much less harmful than conventional cigarettes. Almost all the harm done by cigarettes arises from the smoke, and e-cigarettes do not produce smoke.”
He cited the US National Academies of Science Engineering and Mathematics which concluded that e-cigarettes are “likely to be far less harmful” than conventional cigarettes.
He also cited the evidence review of the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England, which both concluded that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking.