Vape Bans Continue Despite Research Supporting Smoking Cessation

Vape Bans, Smoking Cessation, Research

In a recent development, Kazakhstan has joined the list of countries imposing bans on vaping products. President Kassym-Joomart Tokayev signed a measure prohibiting the import, production, and sales of devices, e-liquids (with or without nicotine), and related chemicals and flavorings used to produce inhalable aerosols. The new bill also extends to advertising for heated tobacco products, vapes, and e-liquids.

Penalties for violating the ban include fines of up to $1,600 or up to 50 days of arrest for selling banned products, while those caught importing or manufacturing electronic cigarettes could face fines of up to $16,500, a two-year restriction of liberty order, or imprisonment for up to two years. The law is set to take effect 60 days after its official publication.

Asian Countries Increasingly Opting for Prohibition

Kazakhstan is not alone in its move towards vaping prohibition. Neighboring Uzbekistan is also planning to ban electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), including vapes and tobacco heating systems, despite the thriving industry in the country. The proposed draft law aims to introduce administrative and criminal penalties for violations, mirroring Kazakhstan’s approach.

Another Asian nation, Nepal, is on the brink of banning vapes due to rising use among young people. A recent survey by the Nepal Development Research Institute (NDRI) revealed that 34.1% of the population used tobacco in various forms, up from 31.8% in 2020. Imports of vaping products reached 3.2 million units in 2023, amounting to an NPR210 million ($1.5 billion) industry.

Researchers attribute the increase in tobacco consumption to the growing popularity of hookah and vapes, and are advocating for higher taxes on tobacco products. Senior Health Education Administrator Bhakta Bahadur KC claims that vapes pose similar health risks as traditional cigarettes, despite scientific evidence consistently indicating otherwise.

Research Highlights Effectiveness of Vapes for Smoking Cessation

Amidst the growing trend of vape bans, recent studies have reiterated the potential of vapes in helping people quit smoking tobacco. A study titled “Divergence in Cigarette Discontinuation Rates by Use of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS): Longitudinal Findings From the United States PATH Study Waves” found that from 2016 to 2019, a higher percentage of vapers quit smoking compared to non-vapers. This trend continued through 2021, with nearly 31% of e-cigarette users quitting smoking compared to 20% of non-users.

These findings align with earlier research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which showed that smokers provided with free e-cigarettes and counseling were more likely to remain tobacco-free after six months compared to those who received standard counseling alone.

Researchers believe that the similarity between vaping and smoking makes vapes the easiest nicotine products for smokers to transition to. However, experts caution against viewing vaping as a universal solution, arguing that replacing one form of nicotine with another may not address the underlying issue of addiction.

As more countries move towards banning vaping products, the debate surrounding their effectiveness in smoking cessation continues. While some health officials claim that vapes pose similar health risks as traditional cigarettes, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests otherwise. As the global conversation on vaping evolves, it remains crucial to consider the potential benefits of these products in helping smokers quit, while also addressing the concerns surrounding their use, particularly among young people.

Matthew Ma