Vaping May Replace Smoking Within 30 years, Extending the Lives of a Billion People, Says New Paper from Reason Foundation

19 August 2016
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A new working paper[1] written by Julian Morris, Vice President of Research at Reason Foundation, and Dr Amir Ullah Khan, noted Indian economist, explores The Vapour Revolution, showing how vape technologies have developed, their potential to improve lives – and the policy implications.[2] The authors are particularly concerned about the possibility that regulation advocated by the World Health Organization could kill innovation and thereby slow down or halt this revolution in harm reduction.

Morris and Khan find that rapid innovation, driven by competition in a relatively unregulated market, has resulted in vape products that are attracting millions of smokers to switch. Considered 95% safer than smoking, vaping enables smokers to live longer, healthier, more productive lives. Economies also benefit from increased economic activity and lower healthcare costs. With continued innovation, the authors expect vape products entirely to replace smoking within three decades.

According to co-author Dr. Amir Ullah Khan, "In less than ten years, innovative vape products have seen a dramatic increase in quality, efficacy and safety, while prices have fallen. Already, millions of smokers have switched. Innovation now has the potential to prevent over a billion smoking-related deaths, extending the lives of smokers and potential smokers by perhaps ten billion years."

But the authors warn that continued innovation may be thwarted by regulations, especially if promoted by the World Health Organization. Excessively restrictive regulation of vape products will drive up costs, reduce choice, and undermine competition and innovation. While some countries such as the UK have encouraged innovation by avoiding over-regulation, others such as Australia, Singapore, Brazil, and Mexico have banned the technology or imposed excessive restrictions.

The WHO plays a key role with its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, a global treaty providing guidance to countries on their tobacco control policies. To date the WHO has been hostile to harm reduction products, advocating instead that smokers should quit or die. When the WHO hosts the seventh conference of the parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in Delhi this November, it should abandon this 'Quit or Die' approach and embrace the potential of vape technology and innovation.

Co-author Julian Morris commented: "The WHO's FCTC should change its approach to vape products, recognizing their life-saving potential. At the very least, it should include in its deliberations some of the many health experts whose research shows that these innovations can and do save lives."

Julian Morris is Vice President for Research at Reason Foundation. Julian graduated from Edinburgh University in 1992 with an MA in economics. He has an MSc in environment and resource economics from University College London, an MPhil in land economics from Cambridge University, and a law degree from the University of Westminster.

Julian is the author of dozens of scholarly articles on the relationship between institutions, development and environmental protection, and the editor of several books, including Sustainable Development: Promoting Progress or Perpetuating Poverty (Profile Books, 2002). Julian's undergraduate thesis examined the costs of controlling carbon dioxide emissions and he has continued to research and write on the economics of climate change ever since, including co-authoring Global Warming: Apocalypse or Hot Air (IEA, 1994) and editing Climate Change: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom (IEA, 1997) and the Civil Society Report on Climate Change (International Policy Press, 2007).

Prior to joining Reason, Julian was Executive Director of International Policy Network, which he cofounded. Before that, he ran the environment and technology programme at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Dr Amir Ullah Khan has a PhD in Economics and Business Studies from the Jamia Millia University. He has worked as Researcher for the Ministry of Finance, Government of India and the UNDP at Project LARGE (Legal Adjustments and Reforms for Globalising the Economy). He then was Academic Head at the Indian School of Finance and Management, after which he worked with Encyclopædia Britannica as executive director and editor. He is senior policy advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr Khan is currently a member of the Board of Governors at the Presidency University, Bangalore. He is also a member in the Telangana Government's Commission of Inquiry on Socio economic conditions headed by G Sudhir. He has been a senior fellow at the India Development Foundation and Adjunct Professor of Business and Law at the Edith Cowan University. He teaches at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, the Manipal Institute of Technology, the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in Delhi.

[1]Julian Morris and Amir Ullah Khan, The Vapour Revolution: How Bottom Up Innovation is Saving Lives, Reason Foundation Working Paper, Los Angeles: Reason Foundation.

[2] Vaping refers to the inhalation of vapour, usually – but not always – containing nicotine. Vapour is typically produced by heating liquids containing a mixture of propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerin, nicotine and flavourings.

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