by Carl V Phillips
As many readers know, the World Health Organization (WHO) came out this week with an attack on e-cigarettes which presages them trying to pressure governments into acting against e-cigarettes. CASAA has not tried to address this in detail because (a) most of what we would have to say is generic observations of how many of the claims are wrong and proposed policies are bad, and we have already done that in other contexts, and (b) it seemed a reasonable division of labor to leave this to European supporters of tobacco harm reduction because we had to deal with theand this week. One of the Europeans who took on the WHO was Clive Bates, including with . In response to Bates’s challenge to them, WHO did not pause to consider that they might be wrong and doing harm, nor did they try to defend themselves substantively. Instead, they threatened legal action against Bates.
Bates’s position, shared by many, is that with and associated public statements, WHO is denigrating and spreading misinformation about e-cigarettes, which will tend to scare smokers away from using them to quit smoking and cause smokers who have quit to return to smoking. In addition, the government policies endorsed in the document would tend to make e-cigarettes less available and less attractive compared to smoking, further reducing switching from the high-risk product to the low-risk one. The net result would be more smoking and thus more disease and death.
For the rest of the article please see the link at the top of the post.
Maintaining the position that a safer alternative to smoking is not “safe,” that all tobacco use is always deadly and that the only safe choice is to cease nicotine use altogether simply convinces smokers that switching to a safer alternative doesn’t provide enough benefit to warrant the effort of trying. Why any public health official would try to convince the world that a 95-99% reduction in risk is as bad as smoking is utterly beyond my comprehension.
If there were no perceived benefits to smoking, then no one would smoke. It really is that simple. The percentage of people in the population who smoke may have gone down, but the population has increased at the same time meaning that (although these figures are hard to pinpoint) in absolute terms there are very probably more individual smokers year on year. For thousands of people the benefits of smoking outweigh the risks; simply looking at tobacco sales will tell you that this is true. That the risk of smoking has been overstated by people who are supposed to be unbiased arbiters of health muddies the waters for smokers trying to seek the truth. I could see that the information I was being fed was flawed and so dismissed it instead of trying to ascertain the truth behind the exaggerations. I was far more likely to attribute my concerns about…
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