Commentary

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Neil McKeganey | 27 August 2014

Have health professionals started a new moral panic over e-cigarettes? Neil McKeganey thinks they have.

There are few things more powerful than the narrative of fear. The concern that something may be harming us in ways that we might have been unaware, and that action should be taken to limit its occurrence, is a foundational tablet of interventionist public policy. The narrative of fear can be equally strong when it comes to new items that emerge in our social world and about which we know relatively little.

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Gerry Stimson* | 26 August 2014

WHO’s mission is to save lives and prevent disease but once again it is exaggerating the risks of e-cigarettes, while downplaying the huge potential of these non-combustible low risk nicotine products to end the epidemic of tobacco related disease. WHO claims e-cigarettes are a threat to public health, but this statement has no evidence to support it, and ignores the large number of people who are using them to cut down or quit smoking completely
 
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Nicotine Science & Policy | 22 August 2014

The European vaper organisation – European Vapers United Network – has added its voice to the growing concern about the possible WHO position on electronic cigarettes.

 

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Nicotine Science & Policy | 20 August 2014

A legal challenge against the EU Tobacco Products Directive has been launched by UK e-cigarette manufacturer Totally Wicked. The first step will be to ask for the British court to rule whether a case can be taken to the European court.

 

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Nicotine Science & Policy | 18 August 2014

The Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance is currently considering a new decree that will tax e-cigarettes and drive up their costs, making them less financially attractive for users, and damaging the e-cigarette market. 

 

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Michael R. Hufford & Gilbert Ross | 3 August 2014

Today approximately 14,000 people will die of tobacco-related diseases around the world. The same thing will happen tomorrow and the day after that, leaving nearly 6 million dead in the coming year. Despite this public health disaster, the uncomfortable truth is that mind-altering drugs, from alcohol to nicotine to caffeine, are here to stay. When it comes to smoking, our addiction has proven too much to overcome:

  • too strong at the individual level, by the smoker who will fail 95% of the time in their attempts to quit;
  • too strong at governmental levels, who have grown too dependent on cigarette taxes and Master Settlement transfer payments to responsibly consider public health; and
  • too strong at the societal level, by investors’ addiction to tobacco companies’ profits and their reliable dividends.

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Nicotine Science & Policy | 29 June 2014

On 26 May 2014, fifty three specialists in nicotine science and public health policy wrote to Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO to argue that tobacco harm reduction is part of the solution to the burden of smoking related disease and requires a careful and evidence based approach to its regulation. This letter received global media coverage.
full details letter PDF press coverage

In response, Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California at San Francisco organized an alternative letter making a number of criticisms of the first letter and attempting a scientific critique of e-cigarettes.

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Sallie Goetsch | 16 June 2014 •Guest Blog•

I spent my earliest years in a non-smoking household and was a poster child for the anti-smoking educational programs of the 1970s–even though my parents went back to smoking after they got divorced. Though I had friends who started smoking as young as ten, I never even tried it, and was proud to be a non-smoker.

Though I didn’t become political about my dislike of smoking, I was always just as happy to have any new law passed that meant I wouldn’t have to breathe smoke: no more smoking on airplanes, in restaurants, in public buildings. Never mind the lung cancer and the heart disease. If people wanted to kill themselves, that was their business, but I hated to be around smoke. I’m not allergic; I just dislike it.

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Nicotine Science & Policy | 9 June 2014

The letter from 53 scientists sent to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan on May 26 urging the organisation to refrain from classifying e-cigarettes as regular tobacco products received wide media coverage across the world. The letter was sent ahead of the upcoming WHO sponsored Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) meeting in Moscow this October.

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Nicotine Science & Policy | 29 May 2014

Over 50 leading scientists from 15 countries have written to Margaret Chan Director-General of the World Health Organization to ask WHO reconsider its intention to classify e-cigarettes the same as regular cigarettes, warning that they risk missing an opportunity to drastically reduce smoking and the illness and death associated with it.

Ahead of the WHO sponsored Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) meeting in Moscow this October, the scientists have reacted to a leaked document from a FCTC preparatory meeting indicating that the WHO considers e-cigarettes a “threat” to public health and intends to sideline their use as an accessible alternative to regular tobacco and cigarettes. Snus is already included in the FCTC.