Electronic cigarette debate has field experts divided as some worry that banning these products may threaten public health in the long run, while others stress the dangers of using them.
- Researchers highlight the benefits of electronic cigarettes.
- Academics fear that these benefits are being exaggerates due to commercial interest.
- Arguments have been made that labeling electronic cigarettes “safe” may affect the smoking ban in cars.
- The debate is leaving many smokers confused about what they should do.
Electronic cigarette supporters say that the device has been shown to help smokers quit the unhealthy habit. But strict regulation of these products may lead the general public to believe that they are just as dangerous as traditional cigarettes.
On the opposite end of the debate are those who question the benefits associated with electronic cigarettes. Two (2) academics who share this perspective recently published a paper in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), doubting some of the arguments made in favor of theses products.
They fear that the so called benefits of vaping are being exaggerated by various parties with a financial interest, and their article has sparked a passionate online debate among the top addiction experts and cancer experts working in the field.
In their paper, Martin McKee, professor of European public health from Tropical Medicine and the London School of Hygiene, and Simon Capewell, professor of clinical epidemiology from the University of Liverpool, have scolded Public Health England (PHE) for claiming in a review that electronic cigarettes are 95 percent (95%) less harmful to a person’s health, compared to traditional cigarettes.
The problem that McKee and Capewell have with the statement is that the study was financed by two (2) groups linked to electronic cigarette manufacturers and tobacco companies, and thus Public Health England may have been forced to paint vaping in a certain positive light.
A paragraph from their article reads as follows: “directors of public health and the wider community desperately need advice on EC [electronic cigarettes] that is evidence-based and free from any suspicion of influence by vested interests”.
The biggest concern that McKee and Capewell have is that labeling electronic cigarettes “safe” will inevitably affect how much people respect the smoking ban in cars. The ban in set to come into force in just a few weeks, but the academic duo wrote that “If e-cigarettes are so safe, presumably there will be no restriction on using them in cars”.
What this means is that the upcoming smoking ban in cars with kids will be virtually unenforceable. Police officers will find it very hard to determine “what is causing a cloud of smoke or vapor in a moving car”.
On the other hand, Ann McNeill, lead author in the review publushed by Public Health England and professor of tobacco addiction from King’s College London, has argued in her paper that it would be irresponsible to discourage traditional smokers from switching to electronic cigarettes.
She said that the dangerous chemicals found in traditional cigarettes are either absent in electronic cigarettes, or only present at a much lower level – below 5 percent (5%).
However, the debate taking place among field experts has left many confused. A recent YouGov poll has found that an increasing number of smokers are having trouble understanding the difference between the risk posed by smoking and the risk posed by vaping. This in turn is preventing them from switching to electronic cigarettes.
Image Source: pixabay.com