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Who Hates Indoor Vaping

The World Health Organisation is advising a total ban on indoor vaping.

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An article, up for peer-review in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Bulletin journal, makes the claim that all indoor vaping should be banned. The writers of a paper on banning indoor vaping have chosen their words carefully, but shamefully dredge up previously debunked objections once again to support their stance.

The Bulletin claims to be “one of the world's leading public health journals”. It is a monthly journal with a special focus on peer-reviewed articles for the developing world. Unfortunately this lends it great weight, and the initial influence of an entry is unlikely to be reversed by later contributions.

In their paper on indoor vaping bans, the team were led by Nick Wilson, an “expert” from the Department of Public Health at Otago University. He claims to be free of competing interests, but fails to make it apparent to the casual observer that he is a staunch opponent to vaping.

Wilson has been repeating a mantra for years: that seeing vaping taking place may encourage ex-smokers to smoke again, that vaping normalises the act of smoking, and that 2nd hand vape poses a risk to non-smokers/vapers. He did it here in 2015, and then last year he said: “It would be a very naive approach for addictive drugs to be sold anywhere,” and “There is some overseas evidence of promotion of e-cigarettes targeting young people”.

Maybe Wilson isn’t receiving compensation directly for his puritanical beliefs on nicotine, but he clearly has a competing interest to that of harm reduction – and maybe he should make this clear in any work he is involved in?

Just this year, he denied influencing Otago University’s decision to ban vaping from all campuses (when it was clearly him being referred to by the board), and said the following about electronic cigarettes:

  • Likened vaping to cannabis use in Holland.
  • Accused them of the normalisation of smoking.
  • Argued that a constrained, regulated market “helps customer support”, so vape shops can move smokers to vaping.
  • Fees from application can generate revenue to be spent on more monitoring.
  • Light legislation makes it easier to ban vaping in the future.

In the Bulletin article, Wilson continues to cloud these bogus objections by displaying them as part of a balanced look at vaping. “First, at a distance, smoking and vaping may look similar to some people,” it reads, “since both activities produce visible clouds exhaled from people’s mouths after they have drawn on a cigarette or device. Some e-cigarette users admit to this similarity, e.g. some cite visual similarity as a reason why they do not vape around people who are eating.”

The entire piece is loaded with false narrative and logical fallacies, concluding that (of course) vaping should be banned from indoor places. It leaves one question unasked and unanswered: how can they embrace harm reduction for hard drugs yet reject it for nicotine?

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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