So begins an intervention published today in the Tampa Bay Times and signed by five members of the Tobacco Research & Intervention Program of the Moffit Cancer Center and Research Institute of Tampa, Florida, one of the most important tobacco research teams in the United States. “Put together – Thomas Brandon, Vani Simmons, Damon Vidrine, Jennifer Vidrine and Christine Vinci continue – we have more than a century of experience in tobacco research, including the development and evaluation of treatments to quit smoking.
And this is why the experts of one of the largest research and cancer treatment centers in the United States decide to take the field to the local newspaper to restore some order in scientific and media information on vaping. They do this, perhaps casually, following the model of the recent and discussed intervention by the World Health Organization, that of questions and answers. To the first question, if electronic cigarettes are as harmful as traditional ones, the answer is clear: “Science agrees that vaping causes a fraction of the damage from smoking”. Although not harmless, they explain, the e-cigarette is far less harmful than smoking, which causes 7 million deaths per year, half a million in the US alone. Some products contain nicotine, which can be addictive, but not the other thousands of chemicals, “including dozens of toxic and carcinogenic” contained in the smoke. “It is these substances – they conclude – not nicotine that causes smoke-related diseases”.
With this premise, the researchers go into the merits of lung disease associated with vaping, explaining that the cases and the registered victims were not caused by legal products for vaping, but the use of illegal cartridges containing THC. “In particular – they specify – the main culprit seems to be vitamin E acetate, an additive used in these illegal products”. As for the effectiveness of the e-cigarette as a tool to quit smoking, Moffit experts cite the 2019 clinical study by British professor Peter Hajeck, which indicates that they are twice as effective as nicotine patches and gums. And regarding the aromas, they concede that some of them can attract young people, but explain that they help adult smokers to switch to electronics. “Eliminating the aromas – they write – could push minors and adults to return to smoking or to the dangerous products of the black market”.