“This policy is not based on evidence” says Professor Robert West, director of tobacco studies at University College London.
Could happen… might happen…. politicians are dealing with pure speculation when they debate limiting the use of e-cigarettes. “People might be encouraged to start smoking” said one self-appointed expert.
Really? Where’s the evidence for that? Do you know even one person who has moved from e-cigarettes to tobacco? Of course not! It works the other way around.
You see ‘might’ is a great word.
If you deal in facts you supply evidence. You have respect, knowledge, credibility. But why bother? Anyone can wander in to the debate with whatever crackpot theory they have thought up that morning on the bus, and hey presto they’ve hit the headlines. Let’s try it now and see how the word ‘might’ turns me from nut job into an expert in one easy move…
Attempt one: Blind man listens to jazz. My deduction – listening to jazz causes blindness. Result – I’m bonkers. People laugh at me and tell me I’m an idiot.
Attempt two: I now say “Listening to jazz MIGHT cause blindness.” Result – I’m respected and famous. People will hail me as an expert, tell me I’m a public safety and healthcare genius and call for jazz to be banned.
Where’s my evidence?
I’ll tell you what evidence does exist. Evidence that more than five million smokers die each year from smoking. There’s no denying that. And surely that’s what we should be concentrating on?
Let’s think about the evidence that smokers die 10 years earlier than non-smokers. Evidence that smoking accounts for 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 87 percent of lung cancer deaths. Evidence that the risk of developing lung cancer is about 23 times higher in male smokers compared to non-smokers; evidence that smoking is associated with increased risk of at least 15 types of cancer.
THAT is surely the evidence which matters?
Let’s think about the HUGE health gains if smokers switch to e-cigarettes. As The Times London Health Correspondent Chris Smyth wrote only a couple of weeks ago:
‘Electronic cigarettes give smokers a nicotine hit, but are considered relatively harmless because they contain no tobacco.”
So while some politicians appear to be pretty smug with their proposals to restrict e-cigarettes, Professors West and Britton – highly intelligent people who have devoted a lifetime to studying the effects of smoking – are genuinely worried.
“This policy is not based on evidence. The growth of e-cigarette use in England has been accompanied by an increase in rates of stopping smoking. E-cigarette users seem to be victims of a propaganda war being wages by some of my colleagues.”
Please read that again. The Professor said that e-cigarettes work! And Professor John Britton, director of the UK centre for tobacco control studies at the University of Nottingham said that he would not favour a blanket ban because
“it’s hard to overstate the health benefits from encouraging people to switch from smoking tobacco to alternate sources of nicotine.
“There’s little evidence of gateway use. The majority of e-cigarette users are smokers trying to quit, which we want to encourage. It’s easy to tell e-cigarettes from regular cigarettes,” added Professor Britten.
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