Presented by Vaping Saved My Life

Mzansi make the switch: Vaping trial leads to smoking cessation results

 ·23 Nov 2023

South Africa, home to 11.1 million smokers over the age of 15, faces a significant challenge in achieving smoking cessation goals.

This is due to a lack of public cessation services and products leaving many with limited options, resulting in only 3% to 5% ever achieving complete abstinence through traditional methods.

However, a 12-week challenge known as ‘Mzansi Make the Switch,’ conducted by consumer advocacy group Vaping Saved My Life (VSML), revealed the potential of vaping as a harm reduction strategy.

The trial involved smokers attempting to either quit or reduce smoking by switching to vaping with more than half of the participants successfully abandoning cigarettes.

For those who continued both smoking and vaping, 79% managed to decrease their cigarette consumption and felt optimistic about their potential to quit by using vaping products in the future.

Most compelling, all participants expressed their intention to recommend vaping as a harm reduction tool to friends and family who smoke.

Looking ahead, 68% plan to continue vaping, 18% intend combining smoking and vaping, and only 14% will stick to smoking alone.

Harm reduction as the way forward

Commenting on these results, VSML co-founder Kurt Yeo, emphasises that harm reduction is the key to smoking cessation or reduction success, and vaping is a crucial element in this strategy.

“Harm reduction isn’t solely about substituting products but providing accurate information to empower users to make informed choices.”

He adds that the results of ‘Mzansi Make the Switch’ illustrate vaping’s potential to aid smokers in quitting, preventing relapse, or decreasing their smoking habits.

“Participants reported significant health improvements during the trial, reinforcing the case for vaping as a harm reduction method in South Africa.”

“However, despite mounting evidence in favour of vaping as an effective means to quit or reduce smoking, the Tobacco Products & Electronic Delivery Systems Control Bill makes no distinction between vaping and smoking. This oversight fails to acknowledge the significant differences in risk profiles between the two,” points out Yeo.

The 12-week trial

During the 12-week trial, 36 smokers were equipped with vaping devices and support to help them transition away from cigarettes.

While some withdrew due to cost concerns or satisfaction issues, those who persevered said they experienced better energy levels, improved ease of breathing, improved smell and taste, less coughing and reduced chest pain.

While this trial may not be a scientifically rigorous study, the results align with a wealth of scientific evidence that supports vaping as one of the most effective methods for smokers to quit, highlighting the need for South Africa to adopt harm reduction strategies similar to those employed by governments worldwide.

For instance, the UK has introduced a ‘Swap-to-Stop’ program, offering free vapes to smokers as a means of helping them quit.

This approach recognises the distinct differences between vaping and smoking and promotes harm reduction as the way forward.

To gain deeper insights into this study and its potential to transform smoking cessation, watch the video here:

The ‘Mzansi Make the Switch’ challenge has illuminated a path forward for South Africa, offering hope to millions of smokers seeking to quit or cut down.

Vaping, when used as a harm reduction tool, has proven its potential to dramatically improve public health and combat the persistent smoking epidemic.

It’s time for South Africa to recognise the power of harm reduction and distinguish vaping from smoking in its regulations.

Click here to learn more about VSML.

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