SMOKERS in the developing world should have low-cost e-cigarettes made available to them, researchers say, to help them quit their deadly habit.
The urgent need for the price of vaping to be reduced in the developing world was also branded a “human rights issue” at a leading industry conference in London.
Experts agreed smokers in poor countries are currently unlikely to be able to afford nicotine-based products to help them quit and vaping products should therefore be made more attainable.
There are currently 1.1 billion smokers in the world with six million dying each year as a direct result of smoking, according to the World Health Organization, with a further 890,000 people dying prematurely from second-hand smoke.
Helen Redmond, an expert in substance use at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work told a 300-strong audience at the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum: “It’s a human rights issue – as a harm reduction device, prices need to come down. Nicotine is not a dirty drug, it helps with depression and anxiety.”
She also went on to compare the medicinal qualities of nicotine with cannabis and said there was a real “need to get vaping to the poorest, who need it most”, according to a report in the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
Academics at the summit also called for more research into the medical benefits of nicotine as well as calling for more development of nicotine-based products to help smokers quit and provide a “smoke-free society”.
Viscount Matt Ridley, a prominent science advocate in the UK’s House of Lords, was one of many experts in attendance who were promoting vaping as a form of harm reduction.
During the conference he said imposing the same workplace restrictions already in place for smokers on vapers was an infringement of their human rights, explaining when it came to giving up smoking, technology was the answer.
He said: “We should treat vaping in the same way that we treat access to mobile phones.
“The best way to get people to give up [smoking] is to innovate with technology”.