By Steve Birr
Iceland’s medical professionals are calling electronic cigarettes a “blessing,” crediting alternative technologies for the country’s plummeting smoking rate.
Iceland does not currently have specific policies regulating or restricting vaping devices, giving the country’s smoking population full access to the harm reduction products. Roughly 14 percent of Iceland’s adult population identified as smokers in 2014, but that share has since fallen to only nine percent, according to The Reykjavik Grapevine.
Guðmundur Karl Snæbjörnsson, a doctor in the country, says vaping is largely responsible for the roughly 40 percent decline in smoking since 2014. Alternative smoking technologies are “a great blessing” for public health, Guðmundur said.
“Smoking has been falling like a rock like we’ve never seen before,” Guðmundur added, according to The Reykjavik Grapevine. “The biggest contributing factors have been mouth tobacco and vaping, which have clearly been wiping smoking out.”
Combustible cigarette sales fell 50 percent between 2008 and 2017 as vaping popularity increased. Roughly 20,000 Icelanders are estimated to use an e-cigarette on a daily basis.
Health officials in other countries continue to block access to the harm reduction products, and progress on reducing smoking rates is suffering as a result.
A major cancer group in Australia is advising smokers to ignore overseas research on electronic cigarettes and to stay away from vaping until regulators can get the “whole picture” of its impact. Cancer Council Australia claims there is “convincing evidence” nicotine vape usage leads to the use of combustible cigarettes, warning smokers in the country to be be wary of the devices if they are trying to quit.
Health officials largely ignore the massive decline of adult smoking in countries like Iceland and the United Kingdom.
Therapeutic Goods Administration classifies liquid nicotine as a poison, while vapor devices themselves are legal in the country. Cigarettes meanwhile remain legal, and the smoking rate decline in Australia has plateaued due to the restricted access to alternative technologies.