On the occasion of the Day without tobacco, this Wednesday 31 may 2017, the newspaper The Tribune de Genève Asked an expert, Jean-François Etter, professor of public health at theUniversity of Geneva.
There is no evidence that vaping helps to stop smoking or to smoke less. So what is it for ?
The absence of evidence does not mean proof of the absence of effects. Both the Cochrane Organization and the Royal College of Physicians and Public Health England, very serious organizations, conclude that vaping helps people quit smoking, such as nicotine replacement therapy. Fifteen studies are in progress. It is a pity that ten years after the first e-cigarettes were put on the market, we are not yet fixed. Techniques are constantly evolving. This diversity is a challenge for scientific evaluation.
Are we still sure that vaping is safer than smoking? ?
Yes, it can be said without too much risk. The electronic cigarette contains propylene glycol, which is found in many foods, cosmetics; nicotine, which is of course toxic but not at these doses; and aromas, on which remains a questioning. In comparison, the combustible cigarette contains thousands of toxic substances, some of which are carcinogenic. Experts agree that vaping is 95% less dangerous than smoking. In the UK, people think that both are equivalent, or that vaping is more risky. There is an information job to do.
Are some people starting to smoke with the electronic cigarette ?
It's very marginal. And the hypothesis of the gateway from the electronic cigarette to the conventional cigarette is very controversial.
Do not we risk encouraging people to vape ?
If you encourage people who have never smoked, it's not ideal. On the other hand, it would be positive to encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes. We must identify the main enemy, which is combustion, and not tobacco or nicotine.
This is not an opinion shared by all.
Indeed, the debate is very keen: some remain opposed to nicotine consumption, either because there is a confusion about its dangerousness, or for ideological reasons - we refuse the recreational use of the substance. A dispassionate debate is needed on the place of nicotine in Switzerland. Recall the enormity of the stakes: smoking kills 9000 people in Switzerland every year, 6 millions in the world. Not to mention the huge impact on health costs. Today, Swiss law prohibits the sale of nicotine liquid, even if the authorities tolerate it. This prohibition is not in the interest of public health.