Policy statements from all over falsely accuse e-cigs/vapors of harm potential

By Gil Ross — Aug 27, 2014
New policy statements from the WHO, the AHA, and the CDC spew baseless, distorted allegations, warning smokers not to try e-cigarettes and spreading false concerns about second-hand vapor. They should be ashamed for selling out.

WHO BannerA full-court press seems to have been engineered to defame and stigmatize e-cig and vapor products, and will help to do the same to smokers trying to use them to quit their deadly addiction. This week, the American Heart Association (AHA) released (via its journal Circulation) their revised approach to e-cigarettes; the World Health Organization (WHO) did the same yesterday, preparing for their October Conference of Parties to be held in Moscow on the global tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention (FCTC). And, not willing to be left behind in the anti-harm-reduction propaganda war, the CDC (with an assist from the FDA) released their version of a statistical analysis of youth tobacco and nicotine proclivities.

As you can imagine, "where to begin?" is a mind-boggling issue with this plethora of official phony, destructive alarmism raining down from everywhere it seems, all with the intent of keeping smokers smoking, away from the most beneficial new technology for helping them quit to come along ever. We at ACSH cannot address all this BS without outside help, given our small staff and resources. So let s let expert commentators bear some of the burden, from Europe and the U.S.:

Consumer Advocates for Smokefree Alternatives Association s science head, Dr. Carl Phillips, wrote an analysis of the manipulative, distorted, cherry-picked stats from the CDC. His title is a spoiler for the main thrust of his comments: CDC refines their lies about kids and e-cigarettes. Please visit CASAA s site, Anti-THR Lies: Dr. Phillips points out the CDC s give-away, when they trumpet their fact that 263,000 teens who never smoked became e-cigarette users, without advising that this number represents less than one percent of the population studied, nor that they called any kid who tried even one e-cigarette over the past 30 days a user.

The UK s Dr. Gerry Stimson, Emeritus Chair at Imperial College and Visiting Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, was one of the tobacco/nicotine experts who co-signed a letter (with 52 other experts) to the WHO a few months ago urging them to lighten their advocacy campaign against e-cigs to save more smokers lives. He wrote yesterday on his Nicotine & Science Policy blog:

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. The WHO recommendations will do more harm than good, ironically protect cigarette sales, and do little to decrease the avoidable burden of non-communicable diseases.

The AHA s new policy regarding e-cigarettes can be summarized thusly: they discuss the science-base of data regarding the risks and benefits of the devices, and seemingly come up with a truthful determination that the low-risk nicotine systems are highly likely to be much less harmful than smoking. Yay. But their final recommendation is that e-cigs should be a last resort for desperate smokers, to be tentatively approved by their doctor only after every other (FDA-approved) method has been tried and failed. This hardly represents a ground-breaking development, but does seem to be an incremental small step toward actual science from this highly-conflicted (due to vast amounts of Big Pharma funding) public health group.

I just today came up with the reasons why this ground-breaking, lifesaving technology is facing an onslaught of distorted, manipulative and alarmist propaganda from officials and public health experts trying to impede progress in helping smokers quit. The forces of harm reduction, among whom we here at ACSH are proud to belong, face opposition from (among others): Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, and Big Government. Easy task, right? Someday, however, when all the facts come to light, these wise but bitter words from Greece s expert researcher, Dr. Konstantin Farsalinos of the Onassis Cardiology Institute, should be kept in mind:

[P]eople engaged in such propaganda should be held accountable for every vaper who abandons e-cigarette use and goes back to smoking, and for every smoker who is discouraged from using e-cigarettes based on misinformation and intimidating tactics.

Being a clinician, i have seen numerous times people either abandoning e-cigarettes and returning to tobacco as well as smokers who were ready to try e-cigarettes be discouraged. This is really frustrating, because those WHO ignorants have absolutely no idea how hard it is to decide to stop smoking, even with the use of e-cigarettes.