Toronto, ON, Feb. 05, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Tobacco use is the leading cause of death for Canadians and worldwide. In 2012, 45,500 Canadians died from smoking related illness and it is widely known that smoking related illness kills one in two smokers. What isn’t as widely known is that tobacco use costs Canadians $16.2 billion annually. These costs include a combination of direct and indirect costs, such as health care, fire damage, and enforcement costs. The estimated annual direct health care cost alone is $6.5 billion, our nation’s largest healthcare cost.

It is essential we look to Action on Smoking and Health, which has been researching vaping to develop evidence-based data since 2012. They reported that the number of vapers in the UK has increased from 700,000 in 2012 to 3.6 million in 2019 and, of these, 54% had given up smoking completely. Even the more conservative findings from the New England Journal of Medicine state that vaping has an 18% success rate compared to the 10% success rate for those who quit smoking with other Nicotine Replacement Products (NRT). The success rate for quitting smoking through conversion to vaping is critical, as evidenced in the study ‘Potential deaths averted in USA by replacing cigarettes with e-cigarettes (2017)’.  In this report, the authors provide the following statistics relating to the US population:

“Compared with the Status Quo, replacement of cigarette by e-cigarette use over a 10-year period yields 6.6million fewer premature deaths with 86.7million fewer life years lost in the Optimistic Scenario. Under the Pessimistic Scenario, 1.6million premature deaths are averted with 20.8million fewer life years lost. The largest gains are among younger cohorts, with a 0.5 gain in average life expectancy projected for the age 15 years cohort in 2016.”  

The study indicates the current Status Quo of premature deaths related to smoking is 26.1 million. Thus, applying their findings, it is evident that switching all current smokers to vaping would reduce premature deaths by between 6.1% (pessimistic scenario) to 25.3% (optimistic scenario). As there are 5 million Canadian smokers, the transition rates comparative to other nicotine replacement products is critical:

  • A 54% effectiveness rate translates to 2,700,000 vapers who would completely quit smoking; based on the 6% to 25% range described above, this would result 162,000 to 675,000 fewer premature deaths.
  • An 18% effectiveness rate translates to 900,000 vapers who would completely quit smoking; based on the 6% to 25% range described above, this would result in 54,000 to 225,000 fewer premature deaths.
  • Comparatively, at a 10% effectiveness rate for quitting through other defined nicotine replacement therapies, a maximum of 500,000 Canadians would be successful in quitting smoking through these other methods; based on the 6% to 25% range described above, this would result in only 30,000 to 125,000 fewer premature deaths, much less than could be achieved through actively encouraging combustible tobacco users to transition to vaping.

There are an estimated 1,100,000 vapers in Canada in 2020. Thus, the vaping industry has already saved somewhere between 66,000 and 275,000 Canadian lives. While the average direct health care cost per smoker relating to combustible tobacco use is not known, reducing the number of smokers in Canada by 18% to 54%, combined with a reduction of 54,000 to 675,000 premature deaths, will also save Canadian taxpayers billions of dollars in direct health care costs. 

While vaping continues to be disparaged by the media, chief medical officials, trusted health advocacy groups and others, the facts have never changed. Vaping is at least 95 percent less harmful than combustible tobacco. Unfortunately, the inaccurate and misleading reporting of late has led to some very disturbing trends. Since August 15, 2019, adult only specialty vape shops have reported a decrease of at least 60% in new customers and in starter kit sales, thus indicating that there has been an extremely sharp decline in smokers transitioning to vaping as a less harmful alternative. Sadly, the fear instilled by false media reports has also resulted in some previously reformed smokers reverting back to combustible tobacco. 

The vaping industry, medical community, and regulators all share the same goal - saving Canadian lives from combustible tobacco. We strongly urge the medical community, media, and regulators to look at the body of evidence to date and to ensure their comments to the public are evidence-based. There has yet to be a recorded illness or death directly related to regulated nicotine e-liquid, while tobacco will continue to kill one in two long-term smokers, causing over 100 Canadian deaths each day.

Darryl Tempest
The Canadian Vaping Association