Public health specialists call for WHO to see e-cigarettes as a solution

May 30th, 2014 at 11:25 am by David Farrar

Nicotine Policy reports:

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 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 aleaked 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.

In their letter to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, the 53 signatories argue that tobacco harm reduction products could play a significant role in meeting the 2025 UN objectives to reduce non-communicable diseases. E-cigarettes and other safer nicotine products are part of the solution, not part of the problem, they say.

This is an incredibly significant letter. The signatories to the letter (includes two NZers) are all highly respected specialists in public health and anti-smoking policy.

Anti-smoking activists tend to fall into two categories. Some, like the letter signatories, are focused entirely on reducing harm from smoking. They want (as I do) to have fewer people smoking, and getting lung cancer and other diseases from smoking.

The other category of activists focus on trying to damage the companies that sell the products they don’t like – whether it be tobacco, fast food, soft drinks, alcohol or whatever. They like, for example, plain packaging, because it may hurt companies they don’t like – even if there is no evidence it reduces smoking rates.

So this group of specialists is telling the WHO that it would be a very bad mistake to treat e-cigarettes the same as tobacco. They are an alternative product that causes far less harm and can get people off tobacco.

Ironically in New Zealand, e-cigarettes are currently banned.

As I said, the letter from the public health specialists is very significant. The two NZ signatories are Dr Murray Laugeson and Associate Professor Chris Bullen (Director, National Institute for Health Innovation, University of Auckland). Dr Laugeson is spent 18 years as the principal medical officer for the Ministry of Health and his CV states he is NZ’s most experienced researcher on smoking policy and cigarettes.

Perhaps the Government would do better to look at allowing e-cigarettes, as promoted by the signatories, rather than pursing measures that have not been found to be effective?

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17 Responses to “Public health specialists call for WHO to see e-cigarettes as a solution”

  1. RightNow (6,961 comments) says:

    Big Tobacco is the only beneficiary of the continued ban of e-cigarettes.
    It wouldn’t be far fetched to think there’s been some bribing going on to keep them banned.

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  2. RightNow (6,961 comments) says:

    By the way – the e-cigarettes are not banned, only the nicotine liquid, which is easy to get shipped directly from the USA or UK.

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  3. kowtow (8,092 comments) says:

    Perhaps the government should just butt out of the tobacco companies business rather than pursuing measures which are nanny nanny nanny.

    Tobacco today. Sugar tomorrow.

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  4. anticorruptionnz (210 comments) says:

    Of course we want people to get sick the pharmaceutical industry depends on it.

    Personally I think that if you want to smoke do but it should be compulsory to wear a helmet resembling a goldfish bowl so that no one else has to breath in the toxins emitted .

    I would also love to see a spray go on the market which non smokers can spray around them , the smell is neutral except to those who smoke, they get to smell a pungent odour .

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  5. Andrei (2,533 comments) says:

    LOL – this isn’t about public health, it is just the secular version of extreme protestant Calvinism which loathes people enjoying themselves.

    Especially poor people who can be bullied with punitive taxes.

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  6. wikiriwhis business (3,883 comments) says:

    Tobacco companies are not making profit from e-cigarettes so they canot be classified as tobacco.

    The Bilderbergers had coffee as a top prioroty last year. Now several South American coffee growing nations are suffering
    with a virus in their coffee plants.

    And J Keys Kids never attend schools with cell towers adjacent. Only state kids get irradiated

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  7. ciaron (1,412 comments) says:

    Tobacco today then caffeine, alcohol and Sugar tomorrow.

    FIFY :)

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  8. Harriet (4,723 comments) says:

    Punish those smokers for being irresponsable with their heart and lung health. Tax them.

    Punish those drinkers for being irresponsable with their liver, kidney and brain health. Tax them.

    Punish those lollie eaters for being irresponsable with their oral health. Pay as you go dentistry.

    Punish those people who are irresponsable with their sexual health. Pay as you go sexual healthcare.

    Guess which one the government will get the sexually responsable working taxpayer to pay for?

    The consequences of fucking whores, drunkards, Dime ect should not fall upon the taxpayer! :cool:

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  9. Fentex (912 comments) says:

    Ironically in New Zealand, e-cigarettes are currently banned.

    I saw a report recently that questioned the safety of e-cigarettes, it argued the presumption they are significantly safer is unproven.

    I’ve no idea, but it does occur to me that as inhalers of atomised nicotine they are a simple delivery mechanism of an alternative ‘high’. Not a lot different in concept and execution to those drugs recently banned wholesale in NZ.

    A little consistency and maturity and lack of knee jerk reactionary policy regarding drugs would be nice.

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  10. Albert_Ross (270 comments) says:

    A question for any web software experts out there. When I try to type “irresponsable” in this box the spellchecker picks it up and offers the correct spelling (“irresponsible”); same thing happens with any mis-spelt word. Does this happen on everybody’s computer, or do some not have this functionality? This makes a bit of a difference to what I think of people who post poorly-spelt messages.

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  11. eszett (2,389 comments) says:

    Anti-smoking activists tend to fall into two categories. Some, like the letter signatories, are focused entirely on reducing harm from smoking. They want (as I do) to have fewer people smoking, and getting lung cancer and other diseases from smoking.

    The other category of activists focus on trying to damage the companies that sell the products they don’t like – whether it be tobacco, fast food, soft drinks, alcohol or whatever. They like, for example, plain packaging, because it may hurt companies they don’t like – even if there is no evidence it reduces smoking rates.

    Wanting fewer people to smoke also hurts the companies. Your destinguishing into these two groups is a bit frivolous.

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  12. kowtow (8,092 comments) says:

    Nigeria, pakistan and Afghanistan are “endemic polio countries”,there’s now an outbreak in Syria. The taliban murder polio workers in Pakistan (George Bush’s fault)

    and e ciggies are a problem?

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/lifelines/2014/04/last-drops-2014429141139609495.html

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  13. wf (410 comments) says:

    A bit off topic here, Albert!
    But: you can set it to spell check, or turn it off. What I hate is the predictive text thing that seems to have arrived with my smart phone so that if I type too fast and don’t check each word, I can end up with a totally incomprehensible mess.

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  14. mara (757 comments) says:

    With e.ciggies, I quit a 30 year 30 a day habit overnight. Patches and gum were useless. As the authors say, “We have known for years that people smoke for the nicotine, but die from the smoke.” Now I vape not smoke, a practice that is much healthier and cheaper. This is a major battle between Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. not, as you may think, entirely about health.
    I will never be persuaded that vapour inhalation(with or without nicotine) is as harmful as inhaling smoke. I get my stuff from naked.vapour.com a local co. that can provide excellent gear and honest advice.

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  15. gump (1,603 comments) says:

    @wikiriwhis business

    What do you mean when you say big tobacco makes no money from e-cigs? Are we just going to pretend that brands like Blu and Vuse don’t exist? (both brands are owned by American tobacco corps).

    And what’s with the nonsense over cellphone towers? Electromagnetic radiation field strength falls away with the inverse square of the distance between you and the transmitter. Which means you get a far stronger dose of radiation from a cellphone held beside your head than you’ll ever get from the tower.

    And as for the Bilderbergers, if you truly believe in that stuff then the only advice I can give is please check your medication levels with your doctor.

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  16. TheContrarian (1,085 comments) says:

    e-cigs are not banned and are readily available. I have several myself purchased from within NZ.

    You can’t sell nicotine based fluid in NZ but you are legally allowed to import it.

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  17. mara (757 comments) says:

    The Contrarian, correct; I do also, but live in fear that misguided fools will clamp down on that and criminalise it. There is no evidence that glycol based vapour is harmful. We know that inhaling the products of combustion is harmful. Who, apart from a nicotine addict, would willingly inhale smoke on an ongoing basis? Nobody. Some miserabilists and their sad deluded followers would deny vapers their pleasure because it LOOKS like smoking. Vapour IS NOT SMOKE. Maybe they think we should not stand next to the jug when it boils because steam is dangerous.

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