News Roundup

Posted 22nd June 2018 by Dave Cross
Smoking falls in the States for another consecutive year, and a study highlights that intelligent people are the ones switching from smoking to vaping. In another study, the Royal Society for Public Health concludes that nicotine is no worse than coffee - this doesn’t sway Singaporean politicians who maintain a ban on vaping but support tobacco sales. Meanwhile, further research reveals a stunning level of ignorance about vaping within the chest specialist community.

News that smoking rates in the USA continue to fall must come as really bad news to the American Heart Association, Tobacco-free Kids and Stanton Glantz. It is difficult to see how anybody can keep a straight face still claim that the boom in vaping could be a gateway leading to smoking, when faced with historical data proving precisely the opposite is true.

In “Socioeconomic Disparities in Electronic Cigarette Use and Transitions from Smoking”, researchers from the Yale School of Public Health and Northwestern University identified that “educated smokers are more likely to switch to exclusive e-cigarette use than less educated smokers”.

Looking at data from 50,306 subjects, they concluded: “Such differential switching may exacerbate socioeconomic disparities in smoking-related morbidity and mortality, but lower the burden of tobacco-related disease.”

Plus, while anti-vape campaigners continue to try to stigmatise nicotine, latest research from the Royal Society for Public Health explodes the myth that it’s the dangerous drug it’s made out to be.

The society’s chief executive Shirley Cramer said: "Getting people on to nicotine rather than using tobacco would make a big difference to the public's health. Clearly there are issues in terms of having smokers addicted to nicotine but this would move us on from having a serious and costly public health issue from smoking-related disease to instead address the issue of addiction to a substance which in and of itself is not too dissimilar to caffeine addiction."

Unsurprisingly, when faced with actual facts, academics that aren’t blinded by dogma or funding come out in favour of harm reduction and vaping. In Singapore, a professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy has called for common sense to prevail and the approach to vaping to be dropped – the marketing, sale, use and possession of e-cigarettes is all banned.

Professor Tikki Pang and Gayle Amul point out that more than 2,200 people die from tobacco-related diseases every year, and the country’s approach is to attack harm reduction and leave tobacco cigarettes freely available on sale.

Unfortunately, misinformation put into the public domain influences more than just politicians in far-flung countries. Research in the United States discovered that there is a shocking level of ignorance within the medical profession, chest specialists in particular.

“Over two-thirds of respondents perceived electronic cigarettes are harmful, and the perceived efficacy of electronic cigarettes in promoting cessation of tobacco smoking was evenly split,” write the authors.

Worse, “6% of our respondents thought E of electronic cigarettes were more harmful than tobacco smoking.” It’s incredible to think that these people are among the most educated within society.

With such statistics, it isn’t surprising to read, “Many providers reported that they do not yet feel comfortable discussing health effects of these products.” Given that only “a 1/3 of respondents felt that ECs could be used for smoking cessation for smokers,” perhaps it’s a good thing they limit their input on the matter.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker