Top scientists are claiming that e-cigarettes are creating a generation of nicotine addicts, the Telegraph writes. The scientists are also accusing Public Health England (PHE) of “walking around with blinders on” when it comes to e-cigs.
A leading academic has said that teenagers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of nicotine on their brains. Children as young as fourteen are now seeking help for addiction to e-cigarettes.
“Transparent Balloni” about e-cigs
In 2015, PHE stated that vaping is 95 percent less harmful than smoking. They have almost promoted it as a good thing – or certainly as a better alternative to smoking cigarettes. But this is not a good enough fact to promote e-cigs. The real dangers of e-cigarettes are only now emerging. Among them are evidence of childhood addiction to nicotine and its subsequent consequences on youth brain development.
Prof Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at California University, described PHE’s 95 per cent claim as “transparent balloni”.
He said: “Many of the e-cigarette flavourings are quite toxic to lungs and gums. They are as bad as cigarettes – you’re bathing your gums in nicotine.”
Prof Glantz added that vaping is particularly dangerous for young people due to developing brains. Nicotine intake in teenage years leads to “molecular changes’ in their brains that may have lasting effects on cognitive function.
Prof Glantz commented that PHE has been “completely ignoring” all of this evidence. He added they are “walking around with blinders on”.
“Simply Not Credible”
Another academic in public health from Liverpool University, Prof Simon Capewell, said that e-cigs are “developing new generations of youngsters who are addicted to nicotine”. He claimed it is “impossible” to see how this is a positive phenomenon.
According to a PHE report published this week, the number of children trying vaping has doubled in the last five years. One in six teens having tried e-cigarettes and many saying they like the flavours. Last year, 15.9 per cent of 11 to 18-year-olds reported having tried vaping, a rise from 8.1 per cent in 2014.
Prof Martin McKee, an expert in european public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said it is “simply not credible” to say that e-cigarettes are much safer than traditional cigarettes. He said: “We are having more and more evidence of damage they cause to the lungs, the heart and cardiovascular system.”
Another scientist, Prof John Ashton, the former president of the Faculty of Public Health, said the health watchdog in England is suspended in “splendid isolation” from other countries. Around the world the take on and congtrol the use of e-cigs differs widely.
Another researcher added sting to PHE’s positition… Mike Daube, emeritus professor of health policy at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, said that PHE have “effectively become advocates for e-cigarettes”. Prof Daube continued that he was surprised that they “rushed in so hard, so fast and ahead of the evidence”.
Better The Devil You Don’t Know?
With so many leading academics in their field launching scathing attacks on PHE, it’s clear that the watchdog’s “acceptable use” policy for e-cigarettes has not gone down well. The “better the devil you don’t know” policy has been adopted rather than one which is founded in concrete empirical evidence. It’s clear that any alternative to smoking seems to be the rule. No matter how dangerous that might be given the unknown nature of the long-term effects of e-cigs. There’s a striking resemblance to the methadone alternative to heroin policy which clearly hasn’t worked. So it seems that is this a harm reduction rather than abstinence approach.
Professor John Newton, PHE’s director of health improvement, said: “While research on e-cigarettes continues to emerge we must act on what the current evidence tells us.
“There is widespread academic and clinical consensus that while not without risk, vaping is far less harmful than smoking. This view is held by many across the world.”
He said that PHE is “alert to the risks” and takes a “careful approach”. He added, “The UK has some of the world’s strictest e-cigarette regulations. These include advertising restrictions, minimum age of sale and maximum nicotine content.”
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