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Scottish Ban and Farsalinos Speaks

Leading harm reduction expert speaks in Glasgow as Scotland bans vapes for under-18s.

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As Scotland’s Health Act is set to ban vape sales to Under-18s, Action on Smoking and Health Scotland tries to tread a fine tightrope as different spokespeople speak out for and against vaping. Meanwhile, Konstantinos Farsalinos speaks in Glasgow, and hits out at what he calls “academic McCarthyism”.

The changes in the law (brought in under the Health Act 2016) include banning under-age sales as well as restrictions on advertising and other measures to brings Scotland into line with England, which banned vape sales to under-18s in 2015.

Aileen Campbell, Public health minister, explained: "We know e-cigarettes are almost certainly safer than cigarettes and have a role to help people quit smoking, but we don't believe children should have access to them, that's why these age restrictions are so important."

ASH Scotland feels that efforts should be placed into catching those who sell cigarettes to teens and not vaping equipment. “With the regulatory framework for e-cigarettes falling into place, now is the time to remind people that smoking tobacco is by far the more harmful activity," said Sheila Duffy, representing the organisation. "There are still 30 to 40 young people in Scotland taking up smoking every day and the priority must be for further action against those retailers who sell to children and to challenge the attitudes amongst adults who buy cigarettes on heir behalf."

But then, in response to a speech by Doctor Farsalinos, Duffy is quoted as saying: “For e-cigarettes it is awkward as there is a mountain of research and the way the two sides of the argument attack each other is by one saying this isn’t valid because it funded by the tobacco industry. I think the concern most public health professionals have with the tobacco industry is because they have such a strong history of suppressing information and actively lying.”

The purpose of the peer-review process in scientific journals is to evaluate the reliability and repeatability of the evidence being presented. Public health professionals may distrust the source but that doesn’t give them the automatic right to discount the findings.

It’s for this reason that Farsalinos has been scathing about the attacks suffered by scientists who carry out vape-related research funded by tobacco companies. “We have smokers who believe e-cigarettes are of similar or more harm compared to smoking,” he said. “Unfortunately these misconceptions are growing, even though there is more and more data and more and more studies.”

He calls it “academic McCarthyism”, where motivations and professionalism are being called into question by those not qualified to reproduce the investigations. He went on to add: "Of course studies which are funded by the tobacco industry, you need to approach with caution, but you can not dismiss some high quality research which is being done just because it is being funded by someone you don’t like."

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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