This Sunday, millions of ex-smokers from all over the world will come together with public health experts to celebrate World Vape Day. In pursuit of a smoke-free future, these people have much to celebrate, even as lawmakers and misguided public health officials seek to prohibit adult access to these life-saving products. This World Vape Day, it is up to all of us to stand with the millions of former cigarette smokers who have had vaping change their lives for the better. 

This year marks 20 years since the world’s first e-cigarette was created by Hon Lik, a heavy cigarette smoker who had recently lost his father to lung cancer and was determined to quit the deadly habit . Lik invented a vaporization system that combined non-toxic aerosol with nicotine concentrate, creating a device that mimics the habitual nature of cigarette smoking while removing the thousands of chemicals and tar that cause cancer and other severe illnesses. Lik’s invention has transformed millions of lives. 

Today, e-cigarettes are widely regarded as at least 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes and are by far the most effective method of smoking cessation. In the US rates smoking rates are at record lows, with only 2.3% of young Americans smoking. In Japan, heat-not-burn technology is attributed with a 43% decrease in cigarette smoking over the past ten years. Unfortunately, well funded anti-science activists continue to push restrictions on these life saving products. In Minnesota, an exorbitant e-cigarette tax prevented at least 32,400 smokers from quitting. In Massachusetts, a 2019 prohibition on flavored vaping products starkly increased cigarette consumption while costing the state over $10 million a month in tax revenue. Recently, a study found that San Francisco’s 2018 flavor ban caused youth smoking to double. 

However, this World Vape Day let us take the opportunity to consider how we can transform our country into a place where cigarettes, and the destruction caused by them, are a product of the past. Let us remember those around the world who lost their lives to tobacco and honor their memory by ensuring a smoke-free future for all. 

In the United States, if a majority of cigarette smokers switched to vaping, 6.6 million lives would be saved according to a large-scale analysis from Georgetown University Medical Center. That same analysis states that 86.7 million years of life would be preserved, an invaluable gift for smokers and their families. This would mean 86.7 million more years that grandparents get to spend with their children and grandchildren. Many who lose loved ones too soon say that they would give anything just for one more moment with the departed. Vaping can, and will, save millions of lives and offer extra, irreplaceable time with loved ones. 

E-cigarettes are also a critical tool for confronting inequalities that exist in health. A study from the University of Glasgow revealed that vaping is particularly helpful for disadvantaged people and vaping products are shown to improve attitudes among people with mental health problems and help them quit smoking, even when they lacked interest in quitting. Considering that mentally ill individuals smoke at rates three to four times the national average, e-cigarettes have the proven ability to better the prospects of the 51.9 million American adults who suffer from a mental illness. 

This Sunday, take time to imagine what a smoke-free future looks like and consider what you can do to make that dream a reality. It is up to all of us, not just vapers, to demand that our politicians follow the science on e-cigarettes and stop the assault on these lifesaving products. Millions of lives are at stake. We must act now.