Thursday, 3 December 2015

World Lung Foundation under pressure for criticising ecigs

In what some are putting forward as an example of anti-vaping scaremongering the World Lung Foundation has this week come under significant pressure to explain its recent criticism of electronic cigarettes. Using what it describes as a “key study” the foundation came to the conclusion that electronic cigarettes are a gateway to tobacco products. When you bear in mind previous media coverage of electronic cigarettes, prior to the issue of various research notes, this may not surprise you. However, what is going on behind the scenes?

Key study

It appears that the so-called key study was in fact based upon statements from a small group of 16 and 17-year-olds in one area of Scotland. Indeed the claim that electronic cigarettes are a gateway to tobacco products seems to have been based upon the comments of just one student. Quite how the World Lung Foundation was able to disseminate one comment to prove a point is a mystery.

The fact is we have seen numerous studies over the last few years which perfectly demonstrate how electronic cigarettes are not a gateway to tobacco products. Anybody who has used a vaping product and a tobacco cigarette will know that they are very different in so many ways. Some experts are calling upon the foundation to clarify its position and apologise for what many see as potentially misleading comments.

Misinforming consumers

When you bear in mind how much hard work the industry has done to inform consumers of the pros and cons of vaping it is disappointing to see a small study manipulated in such a way. The industry itself has tried to lay bare the facts of vaping and while negative publications continue to flow it seems that the wider public are now dismissing these out of hand.

All that the industry and consumers have asked for is a transparent long-term research programme into vaping products. Some of the more eminent medical professions in the UK for example recently admitted that electronic cigarettes are significantly less harmful than their tobacco counterparts. Indeed the NHS in the UK is rumoured to be on the verge of introducing vaping products/electronic cigarettes to its quit smoking portfolio.

Misleading comment do more harm than good?

As many people have touched upon, misleading reports using selective feedback do not necessarily impact those who have already experienced electronic cigarettes, more those who were considering switching from tobacco. These are the group potentially at risk from medical issues going forward, many of which are well documented, but criticism of electronic cigarettes could change their minds.

At this moment in time we seem to be in limbo with regards to vaping regulations and indeed despite rumours of additional taxation this has yet to materialise in Europe. It will be interesting to see how the NHS tackles the issue of electronic cigarettes with more and more quit smoking customers asking about them. It is inevitable we will see tighter regulations in the future but many hope they will still allow the industry to breathe and those looking to switch from tobacco products to do so with minimal difficulty.


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