Norwegian Institute of Public Health must IMMEDIATELY retract false statements about passive e-cigarette exposure


By Dr Farsalinos

A couple of days ago, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) released a report on e-cigarettes. The report admits that e-cigarettes are used mainly by smokers and ex-smokers (using data from the SIRUS Institute and Karl Erik Lund), but makes some grossly mis-informative statements about matters related to nicotine.

First of all, they indirectly blame the large variation between different products, as well as in usage patterns. Well, I cannot understand the reason for this being repeatedly mentioned in the literature. It is more than obvious that this is normal to happen. I doubt that every carrot has the same vitamin A or every orange the same vitamin C, and I doubt that every consumer eats the same amounts of carrots and oranges every day, or chew them in the same way… Variability is there to satisfy different preferences by different consumers. But this is nothing compared to other notes in the report.

The most significant mistake in the report refers to passive exposure to e-cigarettes. In particular, the report mentions: “… nicotine levels in the environment following passive exposure to e-cigarette aerosols causes similarly high nicotine levels in the blood as that of passive smoking of regular cigarettes. This means that one can expect similar harmful nicotine-related effects of passive smoking from e-cigarettes as for regular cigarettes. This does not mean that passive exposure to aerosols from e-cigarettes causes carcinogenic effects, but that passive smoking may affect the cardiovascular system, have stimulatory effects and contribute to addiction”. Not a single word is true in this statement. First of all, nicotine levels in the environment are at least 10 times higher during smoking compared to e-cigarette use. Moreover, passive exposure to e-cigarettes does not cause “similarly high nicotine levels” in the blood as that of passive smoking, but maybe similarly minimal levels of nicotine in blood. A study by a Spanish group found salivary cotinine levels which were about 1200 times lower in passive e-cigarette exposure compared to active smoking. As I calculated in my comment for the Spanish study, the level of nicotine intake from passive exposure to e-cigarettes is not only harmless but has absolutely no biological effect, even according to the strictest regulatory criteria.

The NIPH is obliged (legally and scientifically) to retract this (and some other) false statements from their report. They should provide proper, reliable and science-based information to the public and to the regulators. 

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