England aims to reduce smoking to less than 5% by 2030, but this will need mass switching to smoke-free products as a consumer alternative to smoking, and it must be achieved by consent rather than coercion
The government has established a ‘smoke-free’ goal to reach 5% adult smoking prevalence in England by 2030. This represents a significant acceleration in progress (see chart above with linear trends). As a prelude to announcing a plan to achieve the goal, Ministers appointed Javed Khan OBE to head an independent review of tobacco policy to make recommendations for measures to meet the target and contribute to reducing health inequalities.
Most Americans now incorrectly believe that e-cigarettes are just as harmful or more harmful than cigarettes. US health organisations have unethically cultivated this misunderstanding and compare unfavourably with UK equivalents. Their duplicitous behaviour resembles that of Big Tobacco 50 years ago.
I have drawn the chart above from the US National Cancer Institute HINTS survey, picking up results from 2014, 2017 and the most recent data from 2020. The current situation is shocking and the trend is a disgrace. But how has this happened?
In this blog, I compare the vaping risk communications of four major American health organisations with four similar UK organisations. The comparison is damning.
I have made a short submission to the consultation on the European Commission SCHEER Committee preliminary opinion on e-cigarettes. You can respond to the consultation on this very poor scientific assessment here, where you can find all relevant documentation. The closing date is just before midnight CET, Monday 26 October 2020. All contributions are helpful, but keep it polite, objective and on the subject – the science of e-cigarettes – and most importantly, in your own words.
In my view, the problems with the report are too serious and fundamental to justify a line-by-line and paper-by-paper incremental review. I set out the fundamental problems on my 30 September blog: European Commission SCHEER scientific opinion on e-cigarettes – a guide for policymakers. So rather than pretend that this dreadful report can be easily fixed with a few more references and some different takes on the evidence, I have reiterated the main themes of that blog in the “Summary” box of the consultation submission form and provided the blog as a link and upload. I’ve no idea whether they will give this the slightest attention, but they should, because I’ll back when they’ve done the final report.
I have just published a new question and answer (Q & A) resource on nicotine science and policy. It is available as a page accessible from the top menu of this blog and also at this address: Nicotine science and policy Q & A. I am hoping to keep it up to date… the questions as they stand at present are as below. My answers are on the Q & A page above – please visit, leave comments, suggestions for other questions, better answers or further reading. Continue reading “New nicotine science and policy Q & A published”
On 20 January 2020, the World Health Organisation published a question and answer page on “ENDS” (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems) or e-cigarettes and vaping products for nicotine as they are more commonly known: E-cigarettes: how risky are they? (current live version)
Update (31 January 2019) – WHO’s amended version: almost certainly in response to severe criticisms, WHO published an update to its Q & A some time on 29 January. The 20 January original version, (archived) which WHO heavily publicised (e.g. see Twitter thread) is the subject of this blog, not least because it allows debunking of some especially absurd anti-vaping statements. WHO has not notified readers of the changes or issued any acknowledgement of correction or error. So for comparison purposes, I have compared the original and updated versions side-by-side in the final section of this blog: go to Update: what WHO has changed. Much of my original criticism applies to the amended version, which mainly removes some of the most blatantly false and misleading statements. Update ends.
There are nine questions and every single answer provides false, misleading or simplistic information, and this remains true of the 29 January update. It is a disgraceful travesty of science communication and policymaking advice and again puts in question the competence of the WHO – if there is still any doubt about this. But it is so bad that it even fails as anti-vaping activist propaganda – and that is a low bar.
The commentary claims to show the “invalidity” of the statements made by Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) regarding the relative risk of vaping and smoking – in short that vaping is likely to be at least 95% lower risk than smoking. As this is an important harm-reduction risk communication, it is worth asking: how valid is this critique?
I thought this might be a better critique than it actually is. But somewhat to my surprise, it is very poor indeed.
At best, the authors try to show the absolute risk of vaping is not zero and that some harm is plausible. In doing so, they are refuting a claim that neither PHE or RCP make and challenging an argument not used by anyone sensible in tobacco harm reduction. However, not a single word of their paper addresses the supposed foundation of their critique – that PHE/RCP are wrong and the risks of vaping are likely to exceed five per cent of those of smoking. As well as a number of baseless assertions that are not even relevant to the “at least 95 per cent lower” relative risk claim (gateway effects, smoking cessation efficacy and second-hand aerosol exposure), there is just nothing in the paper about the relativemagnitude of smoking and vaping risks. No analysis, no data, no evidence – nothing that discusses relative risk and why PHE/RCP are supposedly wrong. Niente. Nada. Rien. Nichts. Nothing.
I did a Twitter chat with the Campaign for Safer Alternatives on the typical objections raised to tobacco harm reduction. For those interested in the responses but who missed the live chat or got as confused as I did in trying to follow threaded answers, here is the chat as it unfolded over 15 questions with everything in the right order.
This blog examines an extraordinary claim by Professor Stanton Glantz that the US public is right to believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking and that science is now catching up with public opinion. This claim is profoundly and dangerously false, and it demands a challenge. This is a 13,000-word review looking in detail at Professor Glantz’s 700-word commentary and its supporting citations, examining thirteen claims that form the basis of the overall claim relating to cancer, heart attacks, stroke and respiratory illness, impact on smoking cessation and population smoking.
In this blog, I examine an extraordinary claim by Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California at San Francisco. Professor Glantz claims that the US public is right to believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking and that science is now catching up with public opinion.
This claim is profoundly and dangerously false, and it demands a challenge. Professor Glantz makes his claim in a commentary in response to a substantive paper on perceptions of the relative risk of smoking and vaping. Both articles appeared in the American Medical Association’s JAMA Network Open. This is an in-depth blog looking in detail at Professor Glantz’s short commentary and its supporting citations, examining thirteen claims that form the basis of his overall claim. I am hoping the critique provided here will be a useful primer to some of the arguments in this controversial field.