Far into the future, (OK, let’s say a mere 50 years…) if vaping can continue as it presently is, then a simulation has predicted 3.3 million life years could be saved.

This is not something out of Star Trek, start date 4159; this could well be within our own lifetimes.

3.3 million life years saved by 2070.

One of those lives could be yours, or your loved ones.

A simulation done by Kenneth E Warner, PhD from the Department of Health Management and Policy School of Public Health, University of Michigan, looked at the bottom line when it came to the pros and cons of vaping.

He looked at possible life expectancy, as ultimately, this is the stated goal of tobacco harm reduction, to save lives.  This simulation pulled back on the arguments about coils and the e-liquid and the teens and took the big picture view.

The following quote and image explain “life years saved” and why it is used. Essentially it is a form of cost analysis.

“The quality-adjusted life year or quality-adjusted life-year is a generic measure of disease burden, including both the quality and the quantity of life lived. It is used in economic evaluation to assess the value for money of medical interventions.”

Lives saved table

Currently, there is a polar divide regarding vaping; you are either for it or against it. There is very little middle ground.

Those against state the unknown long-term risks, unknown dangers of vaping and unknown side effects of vaping, plus the teen angle, where teens are taking up vaping, which many believe leads to teen smoking (yet to be proven).

Those for vaping see it not only as an enjoyable way to consume nicotine, it has the added value of helping millions globally get away from combustible tobacco.

No one though, really seems to be looking at the vaping vs smoking argument in a simple, lifesaving way.

Thankfully, Kenneth Warner has done.

He states, “we simulate the effects of vaping-induced smoking initiation and cessation on life-years saved or lost to the year 2070”

“The base case assumes that vaping annually increases smoking initiation by 2% and smoking cessation by 10%. Sensitivity analyses raise the initiation rate increase to 6% while decreasing the cessation rate increase to 5%.”

Base case gave 3.3 million life years, sensitivity analyses gave 580’000 life years saved.

Even in the worst-case scenario in the simulation, vaping still saved lives.

“Potential life-years gained as a result of vaping-induced smoking cessation are projected to exceed potential life-years lost due to vaping-induced smoking initiation. These results hold over a wide range of plausible parameters.”

The report acknowledges that e cigarettes could be a gateway to smoking for teens, but, even if as shown in the simulation, that more teens smoke due to vaping, the benefits of allowing vaping to continue exceed the cost of it acting as a possible gateway.

In other words, smoking and vaping are adult issues. The benefits of seeing this as an adult issue, and have more adults quit smoking using e cigarettes, far outweighs the cost of some teens that may start smoking.

The researchers have been diplomatic with their findings, as indeed they will be subject to scrutiny and in general, anti-tobacco groups won’t like these findings. As such the researchers have said this will not resolve the” Is Vaping safe? Is vaping bad?” debate, but it does show e-cigarettes are less risky than smoking.

Which is what we, in the Industry have been saying all along.

The researchers stated, “We are fortunate to know the risks of cigarette smoking, based on decades of epidemiological research.” Warner said. “It could take years before we know the full health impact of vaping, if indeed we ever will.

“Meanwhile, we have a crisis on our hands. Five hundred thousand people are dying each year as a result of smoking. One out of six Americans remain as smokers.”

E cigarettes and vaping are a way out of that crisis. They may not be the solution, but they could be part of it, if they are allowed to continue as they are.