While I really do like that we have had two very good news stories today, I'm still a tad frustrated, and here's why.
To me, they're indicative of the "We told you so" moment, and that is, frankly, fabulous. But I'll tell you what unnerved me when I read it. It dawned on me, as I ran through the study, that this was very, very "ecigs as NRT" based. And I do not like that at all.
As you get further on in the narrative, you discover that, although the headline writers have trumpeted the "18,000 extra quitters due to ecigs" line, that's a figure that has been derived using the notion that two thirds of quitters relapse. (And that's being optimistic - as we know, NRT is way less than 10% successful over a 12 month period).
If you're a vaper, or know one, who has been vaping a while - and I'm talking, in my case, about over seven years - then you'll know that someone who has switched to ecigs, rather than used them to "make a quit attempt" doesn't "relapse". There's nothing to "relapse" to - because they haven't quit - that is, they haven't become nicotine abstinent. Very few fully switched vapers ever go back to smoking cigarettes, unless their ill-advised governments decide to ban ecigs and impose draconian fines and imprisonment - but that's a side issue here.
No, the bottom line is simple. Someone who replaces smoking with an ecig isn't likely to relapse. But someone who uses ecigs as NRT is, basically, just using a nicer, and probably more effective (60% or so) for of NRT - and, as the study points out, people DO relapse from NRT.
Now, look, I'm sure as I can be that the medics and Public Health folks are very pleased with the results of this study. And I'm sure that a whole raft of what have been referred to as "born again" vaping types will also be well chuffed. But I'm frustrated as all hell. Because, yet again, the establishment is forgetting that there is such a thing as the Pleasure Principle. That ecigs are NOT a bloody medicine, and to treat them as one, as in this case, is doing them a dis-service.
And, yes, I know I keep banging on about this. And I'll keep on banging on about it, and I'll tell you why.
In less than two months, those awfully nice people at the FCTC are going to make pronouncements on ecigs, and we all know what they're going to try to do. In amongst all of their wibble, they do keep mentioning that if ecigs were medicinally licensed, they'd be OK with it, translating their wibble into proper language. That's because their paymasters, the Pharmaceutical industry, would be able to walk in and clean up, in my view (my honestly held opinion, that is, libel lawyers please note). And, guess what? Every time there's a study like this, based on the medicinal usage of ecigs as just another form of NRT, it gives the FCTC and its COPs more ammunition.
And I don't think that's a good thing.
In short, I think we do know enough to be able to say that ecigs are safe enough to take them off the leash and allow them to flourish. And yes, whether other folks like it or not, I also think that if we did exactly that, then traditional smoking of lit tobacco would be counting its days - and that's not because it's something I want to see, but because, frankly, it makes sense!
Let's face it - think of any activity you've always wanted to try, but didn't because it was just too risky. If there was a way of trying said activity with less than five percent of the risk, you'd more than likely have a go, wouldn't you? That way, you'd find out whether you liked it or not, and could then make an informed choice. BUT... the likelihood of you then deciding to go the twenty or more times more risky route would be massively low.
And so it is with ecigs, in my view. Yes, folks who have never smoked are going to take them up and try them - it would be disingenuous to say otherwise, and it's something we have to acknowledge - but, if they're safe enough, I don't see that as a problem. If they're unlikely to take what some see as "the next step", then neither is that a problem. I'm good with it.
But this is markedly different from viewing ecigs as just a fancy schmancy new form of NRT.
This post is likely to piss a few folks off. Well, I'll have to live with that, but it would be dishonest of me not to make my feelings plain on this.
So, yes, I wlecome the "we told you so" moment, but I'm worried about implications going forward.