Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Two important critiques of the WHO report that you should read

Since the WHO published their report on e-cigarettes last month it has been criticized by a lot of people. Many of the critics point out the fact that WHO focuses on every little trace of harmful substances found in e-cigarettes and cherry-picking scientific reports that supports this. They fail completely to compare the potential risk of using e-cigarettes to the risk of smoking cigarettes, and they haven't even looked at the potential positive effects of e-cigarettes.

I want to highlight a couple of very well written and thought through critiques that pinpoints the errors made in the WHO report and the consequences they have on public health:
  • Earlier this month Ann McNeill and others (among them our dear Dr. Farsalinos) published their critique in Addiction Journal: http://goo.gl/3kqBR3
  • On Sunday, Clive Bates published his critique: http://goo.gl/qwuyDk. Remember the WHO tried to shut him up not long ago? I'm happy to see they failed.
I highly recommend reading both of them, as they explain very well why the WHO report does more harm than good. I don't really see the need for me to comment any further on those, but I noticed that the McNeill critique was responded to by one of Dr. Glantz's friends, David W Bareham. The response was published by Glantz here: http://goo.gl/8LZ5e8. What I found very interesting was Dr. Farsalinos comments on this response, published here: http://goo.gl/5GJszv. Now I realize I've given you guys a lot to read, but trust me, it's worth it. If you don't have the time to read it all, go straight for the last couple paragraphs in the comments by Farsalinos. It makes a couple of very good points:
  • He points out that the possible negative effects of vaping is highlighted without even taking the positive effects into consideration. If this was done with other smoking cessation medications they wouldn't sell much of it.
"Would any smoker ever try an oral smoking cessation medication if the only information provided would be that they can cause seizures, depression and suicidal ideation?", Farsalinos asks.
  • Vaping is not compared to smoking, like it should be, but to not smoking:    
"Of course we continue our research efforts because we need to learn more about e-cigarettes. Of course we are concerned about some issues, such as e-liquid composition (despite the lack of combustion and the absence of cured tobacco) and temperature of e-cigarette use (despite being almost 5 times lower than smoking), not because e-cigarettes may be more harmful than smoking but because we want to find ways to make e-cigarettes even less harmful than they currently are."
  •  The last one speaks for itself I guess: 
In fact, our position concerning e-cigarettes is identical to the recommendation of the American Heart Association (AHA): “If a patient has failed initial treatment, has been intolerant to or refuses to use conventional smoking cessation medication, and wishes to use e-cigarettes to aid quitting, it is reasonable to support the attempt”. What AHA and other scientific associations fail (or avoid) to admit is that this group represents the majority of smokers.
As I said, I highly recommend reading the articles and comments mentioned above. If you're a fast reader and still hunger for more, I'm going to go ahead and recommend reading my own article about this from late last month (http://goo.gl/qE8FNC) if you haven't read it yet.



  1. Well said. The critics against Vaping do not seem to take into account the facts. Certainly when you consider the number of people who have managed to stop smoking tobacco when they turned to ecigs / vaping

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