Psychiatry organization endorses vaping

Did you know that patients living with mental disorders are more likely to be smokers than the general population?  Statistics further indicate that they tend to smoke more heavily and that their success rates of quitting are dramatically lower, too.

People suffering from depression, perhaps the most common mental disorder of all, are a whopping 50 percent more likely to be daily smokers.  Meanwhile for the schizophrenic community, that number escalates to an alarming 90 percent or higher, according to Schizophrenia.com.  Even the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 31 percent of all smokers in America are living with some form of mental illness

Helping mentally challenged smokers quit through vaping

The psychiatry community compromised of millions of compassionate doctors, nurses, and mental healthcare workers has been fighting a losing battle for decades.  How do they best counsel those living with emotional disorders to quit smoking without increasing their likelihood of high-risk behaviors or exacerbating their symptoms.  After all, quitting smoking is stressful – for anyone - and stress is an even more significant threat for those living with mental health challenges.

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

In Australia, vaping devices and electronic cigarettes are heavily regulated, even more so than in the United States, largely because nicotine is classified as a poison.  The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) is now officially supporting the “legalisation and regulation” of nicotine-enhanced vapor products -  the very first medical organization in the nation to do so. 

“In recognition of the disproportionately high smoking prevalence, and low quit rates, among people living with mental illness, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) supports the legalisation and regulation of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and other vaporised nicotine products to facilitate their use as harm reduction tools. The RANZCP also recognises the potential harm which use of such products may entail and therefore encourages further research to clarify the nature and extent of harm associated with e-cigarettes, as well as the role they may play in smoking cessation.”

RANZCP also addresses a very common argument of the anti-vaping establishment, namely that more research is needed before lawmakers and public health officials can categorically state that vaping is totally harm-free.  However, the RANZCP organization points out that a great deal of reputable research has already been conducted which indicates vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking.  Ignoring such evidence “does not justify” a federal ban on vapor products.

“Further research is required to ascertain the effectiveness of e-cigarettes and vaporisers as tools for smoking cessation and whether they may provide a novel route into smoking initiation. This does not justify withholding what is, on the current evidence, a lower-risk product from existing smokers while such data is collected.”

Since government regulation in Australia is such a significant concern, RANZCP suggests some possible areas worth considering while denouncing others in the process.  For example, they support minimum age requirements on vapor purchases and the need for clearly displayed health warning labels.  The organization also calls for more public education programs on “the relative harmfulness” of vaping compared to smoking while endorsing appropriate advertising guidelines and restrictions.  Perhaps even more striking, the RANZCP also urges Australian politicians to maintain “minimal taxation” on e-cigarettes to inspire rather than discourage millions of smokers to make the switch. 

Also noteworthy, RANZCP not only represents the Australian psychiatric community but that of New Zealand, as well.  And until recently, the two countries shared similar anti-vaping federal guidelines.  However, New Zealand has made considerable efforts in just the past few months to embrace vaping as a smoking cessation tool.  In October, the Ministry of Health issued a press release endorsing nicotine-enhanced e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid, and great strides towards legalization are now in the works.

Related Article:  Once aggressively anti-vaping, New Zealand does a 180 turnaround

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