Patients are a vulnerable population79.
They trust health professionals with their health, well being and their lives.
They deserve to know all their options.
Advocate for utilization of harm reduction
From first year of post-secondary education, health professionals are trained to trust “credible sources” such as health-related nonprofits, health authorities, regulatory bodies and internal information sources in the work place. Health professionals trust that the information that comes from credible sources are unbiased, accurate, and ethical79.
However, in reference to the Syphilis Study at Tuskegee, health professionals are required to think critically and challenge unethical practices80. This study, from 1932 to 1972, recorded the untreated effects of syphilis in 399 males against a control of 201 uninfected men. Subjects were poor and illiterate. They were not informed that they had syphilis, nor were they offered penicillin when it was found to be an effective treatment in 1945. In 1969 the Centers for Disease Control backed by the American Medical Association and the National Medical Association refused to inform the subjects of their infection nor offer treatment despite concerns voiced by citizens. Public outcry ended the study in 197280. Over 40 years, multiple doctors, nurses and other health professionals violated informed decision making and promoted harm.
Health professionals have a responsibility to resist blindly following authority, review the evidence and advocate for harm reduction to promote improved health outcomes79.
Tobacco harm reduction
Compassionate and just approach
Health professionals’ primary bioethic is nonmaleficence; to do no harm. Miscommunication about tobacco harm reduction has compromised health professionals’ ability to promote autonomy in their smoking patients, specifically facilitating informed decision making81. Ensure beneficence by reviewing the credible evidence.
Supports continued profits
Public Health England estimates vaping helps at least 18,000 and as high as 57,000 smokers quit each year in the UK82. Not only have pharmaceutical smoking cessation prescriptions dropped more than 50% since vaping has been introduced but current vapers83, and subsequently former smokers, are reporting a decreasing need for their medications for managing their smoking-related diseases84.
Youth vaping epidemic
What about youth smoking?
Long term effects
We know the LT effects of smoking
Click bait headlines
Mainstream media has been instrumental at spreading false narratives. Is the free press particularly Canada’s publicly funded CBC not responsible to report the facts so Canadians can make informed decisions on issues of public health95? One must consider that media is significantly funded by the pharmaceutical industry96.
Are they trustworthy?
Health-related nonprofits97, health authorities, regulatory bodies and universal health care agencies have close and often financial relationships with industry that profit from ill-health such as the pharmaceutical, medical supply, and medical equipment industries. These industries fund a large portion of our scientific research, medical schools98, tobacco control conferences99 and so on.
Revenue contingent on disease
Health professionals trust these agencies as credible sources of information because they have been trained to. It’s time to start questioning sources of information that revenue comes as a result of diseases. These agencies do not have answer to the bioethics of professional codes of ethics that guide the practice of health professionals.
On the bandwagon
Professional regulatory bodies make professional conduct and responsibilities for their members. But do these ethics apply to the agencies as well? The Canadian Nurses Association has been a leader in harm reduction for illicit drug users since 2007100.
Front line workers
The final fail safe
When the system fails, it’s the front line workers that must advocate for appropriate application of science to improve population health outcomes. These health professionals witness the suffering caused from smoking everyday. Will they review the evidence, challenge the opinion of majority and do the right thing?
79. Canadian Nurses Association. (2017). Code of ethics for registered nurses.
80. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). U.S. Public Health Service Syphilis Study at Tuskegee.
81. Huang. J. et al. (2019). Changing perceptions of harm of e-cigarette vs cigarette use among adults in 2 US National surveys from 2012 to 2017.
82. Public Health England. (2018). Key questions and findings from our e-cigarette evidence update
83. NHS Digital. (2019). Statistics on smoking, England – 2019.
84. Farsalinos, K. E., Romagna, G., Tsiapras, D., Kyrzopoulos, S., & Voudris, V. (2014). Characteristics, perceived side effects and benefits of electronic cigarette use: A worldwide survey of more than 19,000 consumers.
85. Government of Canada. (2015). Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey.
86. Government of Canada. (2019). Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey.
87. Abrams, D. B., Glasser, A. M., Pearson, J. L., Villanti, A. C., Collins, L. K., & Niaura, R. S. (2018). Harm Minimization and Tobacco Control: Reframing Societal Views of Nicotine Use to Rapidly Save Lives. Annual Review of Public Health.
88. Farsalinos KE, Barbouni A. Association between electronic cigarette use and smoking cessation in the European Union in 2017: analysis of a representative sample of 13 057 Europeans from 28 countries.
89. A Consensus Study Report of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. (2018). Public Health Consequences of E-cigarettes. Page 33.
90. Canadian Centre for Health and Safety. (2020). Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS).
91. Hammond, D. et al. (2019). Prevalence of vaping and smoking among adolescents in Canada, England, and the United States: repeat national cross sectional surveys.
92. Journal of the American Heart Association. (2020). Retraction to: Electronic Cigarette Use and Myocardial Infarction Among Adults in the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health.
93. University of Ottawa Heart Institute. (2020). Top Smoking Cessation Authorities Gather at Ottawa Conference – Day 1. Retreived Feb. 19, 2020 from https://www.ottawaheart.ca/media-release/top-smoking-cessation-authorities-gather-ottawa-conference-day-1.
94. Public Health Agency of Canada (2020). Statement from the Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health on Nicotine Vaping in Canada.\
95. Canadian Broadcast Corporation. (2017). Code of Conduct: Working together: Our values, ethical principles and expected behaviour. Retrieved Feb. 19, 2020 from https://site-cbc.radio-canada.ca/documents/values-ethics/values-ethics/code-conduct-en.pdf
96. Kantar US Insights. (2017). Retrieved Feb 19, 2020 from https://us.kantar.com/business/health/2017/drug-advertising-booms/
97. Women and Health Protection (WHP). (2005). Marching to Different Drummers: Health Advocacy Groups in Canada and Funding from the Pharmaceutical Industry. Retrieved Faeb. 19, 2020 from http://www.whp-apsf.ca/pdf/corpFunding.pdf
98. Canadian Medical Association Journal. (2013). Pharma influence widespread at medical schools: study. Retrieved Fab. 19, 2020 from https://www.cmaj.ca/content/185/13/1121
99. 12th Annual Ottawa Conference State of the Art Clinical Approaches to Smoking Cessation. (2020). Conference program. Page 17. Retrieved Feb. 19, 2020 from https://ottawamodel.ottawaheart.ca/sites/default/files/2020_program_-_web.pdf
100. Canadian Nurses Association. (2020). Harm reduction. Retrieved Feb. 19, 2020 from https://www.cna-aiic.ca/en/policy-advocacy/harm-reduction.