Last week, public health experts gathered in Ottawa for a conference timed to coincide with National Non-Smoking Week. At the same time, vaping and harm reduction advocates gathered for a panel discussion on e-cigarettes. Why did none of the anti-smoking groups bother to show up for the debate, despite being invited, wonders vaping advocate Maria Papaioannoy-Duic in the Financial Post:
Last week was National Non-Smoking Week, so why weren’t health groups doing all they could to help smokers quit? Why wouldn’t they even show up to debate the best ways to get people to stop smoking?
That is what happened in Ottawa last week when a panel was convened to discuss vaping as an alternative for those unable or unwilling to quit smoking. The panel, titled “If Quitting isn’t an Option, is Vaping?” was hosted in Ottawa by Sixth Estate. Despite an ice storm the previous night, the four scheduled panelists representing a mix of vape users, manufacturers, researchers and doctors, all managed to attend. Of particular note, the panel included Dr. Gaston Ostiguy, former director of the Smoking Cessation Clinic at the Montreal Chest Institute, and David Sweanor, chair of the Advisory Board for the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa.
All four panelists offered a compelling argument in favour of vaping products as a safer alternative for those unwilling or unable to quit smoking. A representative from the Tobacco Harm Reduction Association of Canada told the assembled crowd that she, her husband and her daughter managed to quit smoking within a matter of days after trying e-cigarettes. Ostiguy and Sweanor argued that the evidence is overwhelming that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking.