The e-cigarette industry is waking up to a pretty good Friday. After a month of getting hammered by government reports and policymakers, experts are pushing back on the blanket assertions made by the WHO. Leading the charge in the criticism is a panel of tobacco addiction experts.
E-cigarettes have enjoyed a two-year boom, with a vapor subculture springing up around them. Vapor conventions are held all over the world, as users share their modifications, and companies show off the latest models.
The paper that grabbed all the attention was the WHO report that was damning in its critique of e-cigarettes. It called for a ban on indoor use, marketing restrictions and a ban on sales to minors. Ann McNeill, a researcher at the national addiction center at King’s College in London fired back at the report. Her concern was over the lack of solid data.
Researchers also called the report an inaccurate view of e-cigarettes. The void of data has left experts falling on both sides of the debate. Some worry e-cigarettes could act as a gateway habit to real cigarettes. Anecdotally that seems a bit much. You buy one e-cigarette model versus shelling out $5 per pack of real cigarettes.
Other experts say they could be the final tool to help millions of smokers kick the deadly habit. Researchers say that any critique of e-cigarettes should be against real cigarettes. If you do that apples to apples comparison, e-cigarettes come out on top every time. Real cigarettes endanger the smoker and users around them with secondhand smoke.
E-cigarettes have the benefit of posing no risk to bystanders and are safer to the user. There isn’t a model that puts tar into your lungs.
The critique was published in the journal Addiction and laid out several points of emphasis.
The WHO review failed to recognize that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.
In the review, the WHO infers that bystanders are at risk from the vapors, when data shows that the concentrations are too low to pose any significant health risk.
Researchers say that the WHO is too harsh on e-cigarettes, and fail to see their use as a way to get people to stop smoking.
Now, we will have to wait on hard data to come across, with multiple studies being commissioned. Addiction experts were right to push back on the WHO who were making blanket statements about the industry. The e-cigarette industry lucked out by having a peer-reviewed critique come out against the WHO.
The full critique can be read here.