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Vaping at the Crossroads

Public health officials and anti-vape campaigners appear to be emboldened in their attacks.

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Shrouded to contrary opinion, science or pleas from those they claim to be helping, public health officials and anti-vape campaigners are stepping up their efforts to crush electronic cigarettes. With distorted research and outright lies, they push legislators to continue the process of law making in order to make the final step of banning easy.

For example, take Ziyad Mahfoud, an associate professor of Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar. Twisting fact, he claims that presenting vaping as safe is “extremely irresponsible and potentially dangerous”. But, of course, nobody is presenting vaping as safe – it’s being presented as ‘orders of magnitude safer’.

“Studies into the health risks posed by using electronic cigarettes, which are illegal in Qatar, are now beginning to be published. E-cigarettes are quite new and until recently there had not been much research into them, but now there have been few good quality studies and we are gaining some understanding of the health risks they carry.”

“Firstly, the production of the devices and the liquid that is vaporised and inhaled is poorly regulated. A user cannot be sure of what chemicals they are actually inhaling, and it is never recommended to introduce unknown, potentially harmful substances into the body.”

Mahfoud continues in this vein, failing to cite the wealth of positive pro-vaping studies. And then he lets slip: “A common misperception of shisha is that because the tobacco is fruit-flavoured, it is somehow healthier than normal tobacco.” It’s a script that is being trotted out by other people in another news story we are featuring this week. It’s a coordinated attack on harm reduction.

At a recent tobacco control conference, the Philippines Civil Service Commission chairperson Alicia Dela Rosa-Bala called for a total ban on vaping products. A spokesperson for Vapers Philippines said: “According to fellow vapers in Europe, Bala as head of the Philippine delegation, supported a proposal that would allow an outright ban of e-cigarettes without prior consultation with the Philippine vaping community.”

The people, like Mahfoud and Bala, opposed to vaping for financial or ideological reasons have gained strength from the volume of global legislation pressing down on the once-vibrant independent market. Each time they get away with making ridiculous statements they are emboldened to push further

Rob Cunningham, employed as an analyst by the Canadian Cancer Society, downplays any impact vaping has had on plummeting smoking rates in North America and Europe over the last few years. “It appears,” says Cunningham, “there has been a very big increase in quitting, and it appears to be recent.” But, the analyst states, his data does not support the idea that vaping is the reason. Well, of course it wouldn’t because the people who pay money into his bank account wouldn’t like that. The Canadian Cancer Society is pushing the government to squeeze electronic cigarettes as hard as possible.

Make no mistake - these people are winning. Once, not long ago, stores were benefiting from “a meteoric rise in the market”, but now electronic cigarettes are “at a critical juncture”. Retail stores are wondering what product lines to stick with and, in some cases, are choosing to delist ecig lines completely.

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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