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British Public Health Experts Confounded by US Surgeon General Ecigarette Report

Posted 16th Dec 2016 to Vaping News


If you’ve been reading any news at all, you’ve probably seen headlines about the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on how ecigarettes have become an American public health concern due to perceived increased use among American youth. British public health experts are banding together to denounce the report as against evidence-based medicine which has informed their positive views on vaping.

Cancer Research UK: Evidence shows that ecigarettes are beating tobacco epidemic

Cancer Research UK has much to say about the U.S. Surgeon General’s report in a blog posted on its site. It pointed to its own data from 2015 showing that young people were not becoming regular users of e-cigarettes. Additionally, it cites the UK public health consensus that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking.

From its blog:

“The evidence is showing ecigarettes can help beat the tobacco epidemic. And when they have the potential to save millions of lives, should we just sit back and wait?”

Professor Linda Bauld: Report shows fundamental misunderstanding of evidence

Professor Linda Bauld is Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling and is associated with the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKTAS) and Cancer Research UK. She ripped into the data used to make the claims in the report, stating that it used studies in mice and rats to predict what happens in human pregnancies, and stated that vaping was a relatively safe way for pregnant women to quit smoking. This is a position backed up by the Royal College of Midwives.

Action on Smoking & Health: Puzzled by U.S. Surgeon General’s dire warnings

A spokeswoman for ASH stated “While nicotine is not completely harmless, it is smoking that is lethal. There is no evidence of significant regular use [of e-cigarettes] by non-smoking children.” Much of the U.S. report delves into the harm of nicotine on its own, which is by no means harmless, but does not carry a fraction of the harm which cigarettes do. This was a view backed up by Professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health England when asked about the report - essentially repeating PHE’s noted position that vaping carries a minimal part of the risk associated with smoking, according to PHE’s review of current evidence.

While most of the agencies listed here do include a caveat about how more studies have to be done on the long-term effects of ecigarettes, their consensus is that it is much safer than smoking - 95% safer is the number Public Health England has reached and frequently cited.

The U.S. Surgeon General’s report is unlikely to affect the scientifically-based consensus of public health experts in Britain that vaping is a reasonable approach to tobacco harm reduction and safe to use for this purpose. The preferred American approach of “quit or die” is not the British approach to solving the public health issue of tobacco addiction.


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