A meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association received widespread publicity as it purported to demonstrate an ‘association’ between teen vaping and later smoking. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2634377
But even the report in Reuters exposed a number of flaws in the study https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-health-teens-vaping-idUKKBN19H292 while further comments on the study can be found here http://www.sciencemediacentre.org/expert-reaction-to-review-of-e-cigarettes-and-smoking-in-young-adults/
Professor Ann McNeil from the UK’s National Addiction Centre makes the central point that:
“Whether using e-cigarettes causes a young never smoker to go on to smoke tobacco cigarettes is important. This review does not find this. It cannot rule out the alternative explanation that young people who are interested in trying e-cigarettes are also interested in trying tobacco cigarettes."
“This study also completely ignores the elephant in the room. E-cigarettes are known to be less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, but experts and health organisations, particularly those in countries where the original studies were carried out, are not publicly saying this. If young people think e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes are equally harmful, those inclined to try them will experiment with both.”
Not only are the so-called experts denying the reality, it is clear that every effort is being made at local, regional, national and international level around the world to chock the industry off by insisting there is no difference between vaping and smoking and no difference between cigarettes and ENDS. The absolutely intended consequences of these actions will be devastating for world health.
Despite the bleating of the moral absolutists – “a drug free world, we can do it” etc – everyone else lives in the real world. And in that real world, a percentage of young people will try vaping and probably cigarettes at the same time and decide to drop vaping in favour of cigarettes. But we also live in a world of technical aspiration: people queue half the night for the latest I-Phone or game console and I’m willing to bet the average age of those queues is in the high teens. So while not targeting ENDS at young people, the trick to try and keep them away from cigarettes might be to make the devices aspirational. But the success of that strategy will be the pricing issue. I don’t know if anybody has looked at this, but it would come as no shock if those young people most likely to move from vaping to cigarettes would be those from lower income groups. Then again, if you are banned from advertising and promotion..
It’s ten years this month since England became the last country of the UK to ban smoking in public places. But it’s also 30 years since smoking was banned on the London Underground. Smoking was allowed in certain carriages in trains until 9 July 1984. Then it was banned for a six-month trial period in all parts of the Underground, and the ban was made permanent after the major King's Cross fire in November 1987 which was started by a lit match being dropped on a wooden escalator. Thirty-one people died, quite some sacrifice for something that was so obviously beneficial to commuters like myself cooped up in airless carriages hundreds of feet underground and wreathed in tobacco smoke.
Since then many countries have instigated similar bans and I imagined smokers in different countries would react differently. In the UK of course, there was stoic resignation: the backs to the wall Dunkirk spirit was played out as people huddled together outside office blocks with their backs to the wall united in a spirit of victimhood. However, in France, I imagined the barricades would go up as public health officials said hello to Madame Guillotine amid cries of ‘Liberty’ as heads rolled. But no, there was no blood on the streets. So imagine my surprise to read this week that the very polite people of Japan are proving resolutely resistant to the idea of a western-style blanket ban.
Ahead of the 2020 Summer Games, Tokyo is under pressure from the International Olympics Committee to follow Rio de Janeiro and other recent Olympic venues in banning smoking in all public places. However mindful of the tax revenues generated, politicians are holding out. The view of a leading Japanese politician is that Japanese people are sensitive enough to the feelings of others not to blow smoke in their face.
Fifty years ago, around half of Japanese smoked. That's now dropped to 18 percent, and smoking areas have been dramatically restricted, but smoking laws vary from city to city and, within Tokyo, from ward to ward. Penalties are low and enforcement lax.
A 2003 law "encourages" restaurants and other public areas to separate smoking and non-smoking areas, but there is no penalty for non-compliance. Smoking is still possible on the grounds of schools and hospitals, though not inside, and there is a cigarette vending machine in a health ministry annex. According to the WHO, Japan ranks bottom globally in anti-smoking regulations, as measured by the types of public places entirely smoke-free.
Japan has dramatically embraced ENDS and is the go-to country for industry product testing.
It has become something of a cliché in the UK to complain about health and safety; the media love stories like the school that banned kids from playing conkers in the playground in case one of the little darlings got conked on the nose. At the other end is the awful fire at Grenfell Tower. The public enquiry has yet to start, but expect revelations about corners cut to cut costs, shoddy workmanship and inadequate inspection.
But the oft-media cry of ‘health and safety gone mad’ is certainly being applied to open air vaping. I read this week that Arizona have or are planning to ban vaping in open spaces such as parks. The idea of banning all outdoor vaping seem to be growing apace especially in the USA and has now taken on the mantle of a moral crusade with absolutely no basis in clinical evidence. The people who make the laws are the politicians, but most likely any politician who opposes bans of this sort will be accused of being in the pocket of Big Tobacco, just as one of the most toxic charges to level at a politician is to declare they are ‘soft on drugs’. Hard to see how such a tide can be turned because that would depend on vaping getting to a critical mass of acceptance where for example, the tax revenues become too tempting.
It's bad enough that e-cigarettes will turn our kids into gibbering nicotine addicts, but apparently they are none too healthy for our pets and can also crash our computers.
The BBC News headline was “E-cigarettes poison 100 pets as vets reveal list of danger items”. But what were the biggest pet poisoners? Painkilling tablets, lilies, chocolate, contraceptive tablets, artificial sweeteners and raisins.
We all know people with a hacking cough through smoking, but what about an e-cigarette that can hack into your computer? Read all about it in the appropriately named Huffington Puffington Post
But it’s not all bad news According to a story in the New York Post urban house finches are using cigarette butts to pack out their nests to ward off ticks, which eat the finches’ feathers and suck their blood. Nicotine is known to be a natural insect repellent. There is joke here somewhere about ‘tweet not bird’, but maybe not.