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Linda Bauld on RegulatorWatch

Linda Bauld states that vaping reduces cancer during a RegulatorWatch interview.

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Britain is accepted as being at the forefront of harm reduction, and has been fighting tobacco-related diseases since the early 1960s. Linda Bauld sees vaping as a logical continuation of this battle to reduce lives lost to smoking-related cancer and spoke about this to Canada’s RegulatorWatch.

Brent Stafford introduced the interview with reference to the formidable report produced by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), in which they gave a ringing endorsement to vaping. The report, Nicotine Without Smoke, was co-authored by Linda Bauld – who also works with the world’s leading cancer research charity, Cancer Research UK.

Brent Stafford: “How has the RCP’s position towards nicotine changed since 1962?”

Linda Bauld: “The RCP’s position was always to reduce the harm from smoking. It started to look at nicotine in around 2005 and published its first report on harm reduction in 2007. Since then, of course, e-cigarettes have been on the market and they’ve looked carefully at the evidence – and they’ve certainly concluded now that e-cigarettes are far safer than smoking.”

“Professor Michael Russell said that smokers smoke for the nicotine but they die from the tar. And I think we’ve equated nicotine with tobacco but in this day and age we need to separate the two. And there’s quite a task ahead to do that.”

“We have failed adult smokers in many ways. We still have high smoking rates in the US, in Canada and the UK, and we need alternatives for smokers so that they can shift to safer products. So we have to balance it; we have to protect children but also give smokers access to things that will help them – and that’s where I think the US and possible some of the Canadian debate doesn’t strike that balance.”

“There’s a lot of demonization of nicotine, and the main reason for that of course is that nicotine has been inextricably linked with tobacco and the tobacco industry. I think that that connection, which we made for many year, basically telling people that nicotine was bad, when what we meant was that smoked tobacco was harmful.”

BS: “Sure it’s good to look at it that way now, but back then, forty to fifty years ago, did it really matter? That the message ‘all of it was bad’?”

LB: “I think it was a simple message to give and it was very successfully done. But, of course, times have really changed. For me in the work I do, the priority is for fewer people to smoke – and if they can use nicotine safely, and stop smoking tobacco, that’s good! We know that in the UK, as well as Canada, that four out of ten cancers are preventable.”

“Cancer Research UK and the research I do, we think that e-cigarettes are very promising. A few years ago Cancer Research UK was very cautious and concerned about the evidence, and what we’ve decided to do as an organisation is to make a proactive approach. We’re commissioning research, talking to researchers, speaking to policy makers and trying to figure out what is the right balance.”

“From all the evidence I’ve looked at so far, I believe that e-cigarettes are more attractive and more appealing than some of the other products that we offer smokers to stop. So there are real promises in their appeal and their reach. And if they’re less harmful, and we can connect the two (that people want to use them and they’re a less risky product) I believe we can reduce smoking-related cancers by people switching to e-cigarettes.”

So why is Public Health fighting a war against vaping?

“I think there are a couple of reasons, I think the nicotine issue has confused people, and a lot of people who work in generic public health don’t understand the science around nicotine (equating nicotine with tobacco). The second thing is an issues around values and addiction being ‘a bad thing’, but probably the crucial one is the involvement of the tobacco industry.”

The full interview can be watched on the RegulatorWatch website.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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