Hopelessly Smitten With E-Cigarettes
‘The English tobacco control/smoking cessation community is internationally regarded as utterly, hopelessly smitten with e-cigarettes. It’s become almost cult-like.’
These words were written by Professor Simon Chapman, the well-known Australian public health expert and anti-smoking campaigner, in response to a debate in The British Medical Journal (28 April 2018) on the question, ‘Should we recommend e-cigarettes to help smokers quit?’
On the pro side, Professor Paul Aveyard and Ms Deborah Arnott of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) claim that vaping has helped many smokers to quit and that many vapers subsequently quit vaping as well. As for the risk of e-cigarettes enticing children and teenagers to try vaping and later to take up smoking, this is dismissed as ‘only a small problem’.
On the contra side, Professor Kenneth Johnson refers to other studies that show e-cigarettes ‘depress’ smoking cessation and that e-cigarettes do act as a ‘gateway’ for children and teenagers to start smoking. He concludes, echoing my own view, that ‘Recommending e-cigarettes for smoking cessation, as currently promoted and used, is irresponsible.’
This confusion around vaping is mirrored in comments by Dr Lynne Dawkins, a well-known e-cigarette enthusiast from London South Bank University, in a recent study of which she was the lead author.
She thinks it might be better for smokers who want to switch to vaping to use a higher, rather than a lower, concentration of the poison nicotine in their chosen e-liquid. This is because if they use a lower strength they might take deeper and longer puffs to get the dose of nicotine they seek and this could expose them to higher concentrations of other poisons in the vapour such as acrolein and formaldehyde.
Hopelessly Smitten With E-Cigarettes – Part II
We don’t have to look far for another example of the hopelessly smitten syndrome. It occurs in an opinion piece in ASH Daily News (25 June 2018) by one Sophie Jarvis who seems to be a film director. It’s unclear what her qualifications are for writing about smoking but this is what she says:
When it comes to tackling the harms of smoking we still seem to stick to an abstinence-only approach. It should be made easier for adults to switch to safer (but not risk-free) alternatives.
Why does Ms Jarvis think it should be made easier for smokers to switch to alternatives to smoking? (Presumably she is referring to e-cigarettes.) Does she believe that smoking has some important functions in normal human life, but which unfortunately suffers from one rather serious drawback – that it may kill you? Is she yearning for a safe, or at any rate, safer, way to derive some sort of benefit or pleasure by putting nicotine into your body? Perhaps Ms Jarvis would like to explain.
She goes on:
Public Health England have to their credit highlighted the relative benefits of vaping by pointing out that it’s at least 95% safer than smoking. In other words, it would take 20 non-smokers to take up vaping to outweigh the good of one smoker switching the other way.
These simplistic and fanciful comments can no doubt by excused by Ms Jarvis’s manifest lack of expertise in smoking matters. We can contrast them with the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council’s Statement on E-Cigarettes (April 2017):
Although a 2014 study reported that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, this finding was based on opinion rather than empirical evidence, and concerns have been raised about potential conﬂicts of interest. The World Health Organisation has stated that ‘no specific figure about how much ‘safer’ the use of these products is compared to smoking can be given any scientific credibility at this time.
The abstinence-only approach is indeed the only sensible one if smoking can be seen for what it is: legalised drug (nicotine) addiction that kills seven million people a year, worldwide (WHO figure).
So how can smokers achieve the happy state of abstaining from poisoning themselves with nicotine – in any form?
It’s simple if you know how. I explain it all in the Symonds Method.
Text © Gabriel Symonds