Researching into new studies about ecigarette safety we stumbled across Wired magazine featuring a very interesting ecig article. The article “ARE E-CIGARETTES SAFE?” Seems to conclude that it depends where you live?
This week, the US Food and Drug Administration hit e-cigarettes hard, threatening to close many ecig business all in the name of health and safety. However here in the UK our own government and NHS all agree Ecigarettes are 95% safer than standard cigarettes and have proof that the rise of ecigarette sales, decrease the amount of smokers.
Assuming that these so called legitimate studies are not tampered with, and assuming no officials are taking bribes, how is it possible that public health officials, that supposed to be unbiased and working for the good of the community, can look at the same body of evidence and come to such radically different conclusions? Answer: Priorities.
One side will publish an analysis that says ecigs are safe, and the other will criticize their statistics. They go back and forth and back and forth. New studies are done, some seemingly very biased and some seem to be based on fact. But without long term research will anyone truly have an answer to the intricacies of ecigarettes.
But neither side is budging on their argument. For instance after the American FDA’s new rule to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products, this was one officials response. “It makes no sense,” says Michael Siegel, a public health researcher at Boston University, who has been a proponent of e-cigs for harm reduction. “They’re essentially favoring cigarettes over e-cigarettes.” Siegel is referring to a particular quirk of US tobacco regulation: The 2009 Tobacco Control Act grandfathered in all products on the market before 2007, which includes virtually no e-cigarettes. E-cigs will now have to go through an approval process to get to market that old cigarettes did not.
Mike Siegel has described it as “‘a disaster for public health.’”
On the other hand, anti-tobacco groups in the US have taken a hard line against e-cigs. Wired magazine asked Erika Sward of the American Lung Association to compare the safety of e-cigs and cigarettes. “We should never try to compare something to the safety of a cigarette,” she replied. “Nothing is more lethal on the market than perhaps a bullet.” Harm reduction isn’t even in the picture.
This split in opinion shouldn’t be brought into question when you are dealing with scientific studies. Science shouldn’t be opinion. Falsified safety reports in the quest of profits is not fact.
What you’d really want to say, in a perfect world, “it’s OK, you heavy smokers, you should vape instead of smoking (but if you can, eventually stop vaping too). You non-smokers though, don’t start vaping because nicotine is bad for you, but not as bad as starting smoking”.
Public health messaging needs easy-to-understand slogans, which need to reach as many people as possible with a messages everyone can understand. Public health messaging is not a place for subtle nuances and explanations. This is why public health officials from round the world end up filling your head with just one message, or the other. It’s either good, or it’s bad. There is no room for a grey area.
A few small things are different between America and the UK. Here in the UK we have some restrictions about the size and nicotine content since TPD legislation, and the smoking rate is slightly higher in the UK per percent of the population. The EU’s tobacco policy officials are clearly more sympathetic to the idea of harm reduction, the National Health Service now even offers e-cigs to people who want to quit smoking as they have overwhelming proof that ecigs help people quit and are much safer than cigarettes. American officials, whether financially motivated or not, take the stance “smoking is bad” in whatever form that comes in.
In the end, we’re talking about two very similar countries that share the same customs and language, thats seem to be taking a completely difference stance when it comes to ecigarettes, all researched from official studies and data. Eventually we are hoping public sense will prevail and the public health sector worldwide will realise whatever you do people will smoke. All we have to do is look at the 1920’s when America made alcohol illegal. No-one stopped drinking. It has always been the same with smoking too. But the UK government understands harm reduction, and allowing ecigarettes to smokers is the much better and safer public policy, than allowing tobacco with no ecigarettes.