A new study conducted by researchers from Australia and New Zealand suggests that improving access to e-cigarettes will very likely lead to significant savings in healthcare costs as well as improvements in health, leaving the question: why haven’t we done this already?
In Australia, access to e-cigarettes is limited. For that matter, access to nicotine vaping products in a general sense is limited. There are, of course, online vape shops based overseas that sell nicotine e-liquids and e-cigarettes to Australians, exercising a personal importation clause that allows them to provide such products for personal use, but as a whole, e-cigarette use remains engulfed in regulations and restrictions that inhibit Australians from easily accessing them. Meanwhile, this latest study to shed light on the potential benefits of easing restrictions on e-cigarette products points to health improvements and savings in the health sector as just two reasons for legislators to consider their current stance on such products.
The researchers, whose work was published in the journal Epidemiology, found that the cost savings, based on their modelling, could be between AUD$356 million and AUD$6.8 billion. Why such huge numbers? According to their research, the savings on healthcare costs to the tune of hundreds of millions to billions of Australian dollars would stem from fewer people developing tobacco-related diseases from e-cigarette use, which various studies have found to be less harmful than smoking conventional cigarettes.
The study’s senior author, University of Melbourne professor Tony Blakely, was quoted in a University of Melbourne news release as having said that the study “points to cautious liberalisation of access to e-cigarettes as the best way forward.”
“Policymaking regarding e-cigarettes is challenging. Nevertheless, our study points to cautious liberalisation of access to e-cigarettes as the best way forward. That policy implementation should not be in isolation but accompanied by other policies that will make health gain more likely.”
The researchers behind the study are recommending that sales of vaping products such as electronic cigarettes include expert advice on which vape to use, how to use these devices, and what the appropriate concentration of nicotine is for the given user.