Ecig efficacy? Who cares?

When Public Health England’s (PHE) review on electronic cigarettes ‘E-cigarettes: an evidence update‘ (19th August 2015) was published proclaiming that “E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to your health than normal cigarettes”, there was a predictable flurry of activity in the UK and world media. Although the report did not recommend the prescription of of ecigs on the NHS as the gutter press sensationalised, it did however encourage doctors and public health bodies to embrace and god forbid, recommend ecigs to smokers wishing to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. Still great news for advocates of vaping such as yours truly.

In the week and a bit since TV and print headlines seemed to talk about nothing else for a couple of days, we have seen the ANTZ (anti nicotine and tobacco zealots) “big hitters” flap around trying to discredit both the report’s findings and the scientists who compiled it. Whilst this is quite sad, and to some extent damaging to the vaping cause and the credibility of Public Health in general, it was also predictable and smacks of desperation, so I take some comfort from that. For completeness here’s an example of the standard of rebuttal the ANTZ are resorting to, from that well known source of truth and knowledge The Daily Heil Mail.

But this will be discussed at length elsewhere and will play out in public to its ugly conclusions I dare say. The purpose of this blog is to bitch about something that irritates me personally, a notion that is referred to on both sides of the argument whenever the subject of ecigs is debated, and that is whether ecigs can help smokers to “quit tobacco altogether”.

Anyone who vapes, knows that this is definitely the case – a short visit to any online vaping forum or blog will present irrefutable evidence of this. It doesn’t need to be debated, its a matter of record, but that’s not what really irritates me. What winds me up, is the complete irrelevance of this question – it really shouldn’t matter. At all!

We don’t need to substantiate claims that nobody is even making!

To my knowledge, there are very few advocates of vaping that claim that ecigs should be classified as a form of NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy). I don’t want my ecig to be viewed as a medicine because I’m not sick. Furthermore, I am of the opinion that any ecig capable of receiving a Marketing Authorisation (MA) from the MHRA (not likely to happen in the near future anyway) would be completely rubbish. The decline in sales of mass-produced, limited variation, first generation “cig-a-like” ecigs marketed by the big tobacco companies compared to the meteoric rise in sales of user-configurable, second and third generation devices illustrates that a regulated, identi-kit ecig will fail.

I have always maintained that ecigs are not “quit” devices, they are an alternative to tobacco cigarettes that enable me to enjoy nicotine with much (95%) less risk. In practice, they have made this hobby of mine far more enjoyable too and the health benefits have been a dramatic and welcome bonus. As a consumer, I demand the right to spend my hard earned cash on whatever I want without meddling interference from governments. Public Heath’s role in all of this should simply be to advise of any risks, and as they can’t find evidence of any after many years of trying, they should cease making hysterical, unsubstantiated claims and concentrate their efforts, donations and state funding on things that really matter and simply leave us alone.

Of course in the real world, this isn’t happening and prohibitionists continue to invent “risks” and seek to demonise ecigs. We’ve reached the stage where egos and reputations are on the line for several prominent PH “faces” who have backed themselves into corners and are turning to increasingly desperate measures to salvage some credibility. We watch the debate turn from “renormalising smoking” to the “gateway” (please, somebody think of the children) to whether they really “help smokers to quit” ad infinitum, ignoring any evidence as they go. This is the crap we have to listen to, whilst the TPD starts to deny our personal freedom across Europe. (See recent news from Spain, Portugal and Finland for example, where devices and flavours, online ordering and even internet discussion are set to be banned).

The whole issue of efficacy of ecigs as a quitting device is simply a distraction from the real issues at stake here, the rights of individuals to choose versus the increasingly nannying philosophies of governments. We don’t need to substantiate claims that nobody is even making! Either show me some evidence that ecigs are harmful so I can decide whether to use them, or p*ss off and leave me alone!

August 28th, 2015 by