Nursing organization endorses vaping as ‘legitimate form of tobacco harm reduction’

With the vast numbers of conflicting stories circulating about e-cigs, the medical community often has a difficult time deciding whether to recommend vaping to their smoking patients.  However, one nursing organization is not afraid to take a stand by officially endorsing vaping as a legitimate form of tobacco harm reduction.

Representatives from the Drug and Alcohol Nurses of Australasia Incorporated (DANA) recently released a press announcement recommending electronic cigarettes for patients in recovery from substance abuse.  Recovering addicts often substitute a less-harmful behavior for another deadlier one.

In many cases, they turn to smoking to help relive the stress and manage their temptations into relapse into drugs or alcohol.  Even though doctors and counselors know that smoking is hazardous too their health, they tend to look the other way.  Unfortunately, most rehabilitation centers do not allow indoor smoking, and by extension vaping.

DANA takes a stand in favor of vaping

While DANA representatives fell short of calling for a lifting of the ban on indoor vaping, they did make some very positive assertions in favor of e-cig use by patients in recovery.  According to the published press release entitled Electronic Cigarettes for Tobacco Harm Reduction, the Australian nursing group firmly believes that vaping devices can prevent millions of smoking-related or relapse-related deaths in recovering substance abuse victims.

“People with drug and alcohol dependence have high smoking rates and greater difficulty quitting than other smokers. They are more likely to die from a tobacco-related disease than from their primary drug problem. Electronic cigarettes (E-cigarettes) are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid solution, which may or may not contain nicotine into a vapour for inhalation, simulating the behavioural and sensory aspects of smoking, and they are currently seen as a legitimate form of tobacco harm reduction. Nurses have an important role in asking people about their smoking, assessing the risk of tobacco use, advising about the risks, assisting smokers to stop or reduce their tobacco consumption, and arranging further support as appropriate.”

DANA’s endorsement is supported by another medical group of mental health specialists from aborad. In July of 2017, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) issued a similar statement.

“The RANZCP believes that harm minimisation is an essential component of any policy framework that aims to improve health outcomes for people who smoke. E-cigarettes and vaporisers provide a safer way to deliver nicotine to those who are unable to stop smoking, thereby minimising the harms associated with smoking tobacco and reducing some of the health disparities experienced by people with mental illness. The RANZCP is concerned that policies with an unduly narrow focus on smoking cessation risk exacerbating the health disparities, and perpetuating the discrimination, which people living with mental illness currently experience.”

Both medical associations also note the mountains of sometimes conflicting scientific research which either supports or demonizes electronic cigarettes as a tobacco harm reduction tool.  However, both agencies also state that vaping devices can prove highly beneficial to patients with unique mental health issues and patients in recovery from addiction.  They also recommend cautious but appropriate access to these supplies for their patients.


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