- Friday, 05 September 2014 11:09
Misleading claims by WHO about e-cigarettes, according to a peer-reviewed publication
A strong critique of the WHO commissioned review on e-cigarettes safety was published today in the journal Addiction. In this paper (which is available with free access to the full text), researchers Ann McNeill, Jean-Francois Etter, Konstantinos Farsalinos, Peter Hajek, Jacques Le Houezec and Hayden McRobbie present scientific evidence showing that the review by Grana, Benowitz and Glantz, as well as the following WHO report on e-cigarettes, was a collection of inaccurate and misleading claims about e-cigarettes and the health consequences of using them.
The authors present alternative conclusions which should have been made, based on the same evidence cited in the WHO commissioned review. The major points challenged in this critique were:
* The review implied e-cigarette use in youth is a major problem and could be acting as a gateway to smoking, they said, when in fact current use by non-smokers is extremely rare and youth smoking rates are declining.
* The review failed to acknowledge that e-cigarettes are not just less harmful than tobacco cigarettes but that the concentrations of toxins are mostly a tiny fraction of what is found in cigarette smoke.
* The review supported that bystanders can inhale significant levels of toxins from the vapour, when the concentrations are too low to present a significant health risk.
* The review gave the impression that evidence suggests e-cigarettes make it more difficult for people to stop smoking, when the opposite is true, the experts said.
In general, the authors criticized the alarmist language used in the review and the WHO report, which presented dramatic claims about the adverse effects of e-cigarette use on public health while there is no scientific evidence supporting these claims.
It is time for common sense and science to prevail over politics and intimidating tactics. Thankfully, there are many researchers who have no fear standing up and supporting what the real evidence indicates. Obviously, we still have many things to learn about e-cigarettes. However, all available evidence consistently and overwhelmingly supports that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than tobacco cigarettes and have a major impact in reducing smoking-related disease. Scientists have a duty to present the true facts, unbiased by ideology, dogma and personal preference.