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The View From The Cave

Tobacco control troglodytes have crawled out of their caves to complain about the ‘95% safer’ figure

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Tobacco control troglodytes crawled out of their cave to complain about the 95% safer figure in the American Journal of Public Health. Thomas Eissenberg, Aruni Bhatnagar, Simon Chapman, Sven-Eric Jordt, Alan Shihadeh, and Eric Soule submitted a paper titled “Invalidity of an Oft-Cited Estimate of the Relative Harms of Electronic Cigarettes”. Michael Siegel slams their position that smoking cigarettes might be safer than vaping.

“An often-made claim that e-cigarettes are '95% safer' is not valid,” says Thomas Eissenberg. He, and his fellow cave dwellers, state that it “should no longer be made in discussions on the dangers of vaping”.

According to the six, it is a “'factoid': unreliable information repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact.”

“Public health practitioners, scientists, and physicians should expose the fragile status of the factoid emphatically by highlighting its unreliable provenance and its lack of validity today, noting the many changes in e-cigarette devices and liquids, the accumulation of evidence of potential harm, the increased prevalence of use, and the growing evidence that e-cigarette use is associated with subsequent cigarette smoking.”

"The fact is: we don't know whether e-cigarette use is as lethal as combustible cigarette use, less lethal than combustible cigarette use, or more lethal than combustible cigarette use"

The sextet throw shade at the number of flavours available, the power mods can achieve, the range of wires coils are made from and nicotine salt liquids – the latter causing, what they laughably call, “a nicotine arms race”.

Their motivation for making such claims, likened to a “dumpster fire” in one response to the article, could be tied to the income some of them receive from pharmaceutical companies and the proceeds from litigation.

“Imagine if a tobacco company came out today and publicly claimed that smoking might very well be safer than using an e-cigarette. It would be a completely irresponsible statement and the company would rightly be vigorously criticised and attacked,” writes Michael Siegel.

“In a strange and shocking irony, that exact claim was made today, but it came not from Big Tobacco but from a tobacco researcher.”

Siegel states what should be obvious to all but the residents of the deepest, darkest caves: “we cannot precisely quantify how much safer e-cigarettes are compared to smoking. However, there is overwhelming evidence that smoking is more hazardous than vaping”.

“With enemies like this anti-tobacco researcher, the tobacco companies no longer need friends. He has given Big Tobacco the most amazing public endorsement it could have ever asked for, and something that it could never have claimed to be true itself.”


  • “Invalidity of an Oft-Cited Estimate of the Relative Harms of Electronic Cigarettes” by Eissenberg, Bhatnagar, Chapman, Jordt, Shihadeh, and Soule – [link]
  • “Tobacco Researcher Claims that Smoking May Be Safer than E-Cigarettes” by Michael Siegel – [link]

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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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