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I’d like to start with a little anecdote of something that I came across a few months ago. I got an Uber - it was fairly late at night and I’d been out with a friend.

We’d been drinking and vaping. He said “Oh, I’ve been vaping too, I’ve got an e-cigarette” I said “Oh, that’s interesting, what have you got, let’s see it?”. He said “Oh no, I don’t bring it out with me, I don’t bring it to work.” I said “Whyever not?”. He said “Well, Transport for London have banned vaping in private hire vehicles so I can’t use it and it’s too much of a temptation.” And I said “So, what do you do, when you go on a shift?”. And he said “Well, I always buy a packet of cigarettes before I start work”.

Now, If you don’t understand why he would do that then you maybe don’t understand how e-cigarettes work, and sadly, if you don’t understand how e-cigarettes work there’s a possibility you could work in tobacco control. Because a lot of these policies come about because of misinformation that has been spread mostly by tobacco control organisations. The Uber driver’s just fallen foul of a policy of misinformation where Transport for London have obviously picked up on all these stories you hear and imposed a ban. And the fact that it’s in his private property as well just makes it even worse.

Here are some recent examples of this misinformation: This is just in the last week or so because these are regular events, and the public will be reading these sort of things. In a BBC article, last week I think it was - it was a positive article but they quoted the World Health Organisation with a few desperate excuses as to why e-cigs are bad - and one of them was: “the users replacing the liquid in refillable e-cigarettes might spill the product on their skin, possibly leading to nicotine poisoning”. I was tempted to demonstrate - just get a 10 ml bottle and smear it all over my arm - to prove why this is a bit alarmist but I didn’t bring enough!

The European Respiratory Journal recently described vaping as “a one way bridge to smoking”. So, you’ve got vaping going up, smoking plummeting, but apparently this is happening the other way round. Two researchers from a well respected university stated categorically “we don’t know yet if vaping is safer than smoking”. A US researcher from San Francisco, that some people might have heard of, said that smoking triples the chance of a heart attack but using e-cigs as well increases it five fold! I mean, what sort of information does this send out to people about what e-cigarettes are all about and what vaping’s all about?

There are some public health people who are responsible, some have been here [in Warsaw] and they say positive things, but they are just being drowned out by what seems to be a coordinated effort of misinformation, quack science, doubt merchanting, diversion, all of these things. Consumers need to have meaningful and consistent advice if they are going to make their free choices. And public health at the moment simply isn’t offering that. Instead they are mimicking the tobacco industry that they’ve always said we shouldn’t talk to, because we shouldn’t trust them! So, if we’re not meant to supposed to trust tobacco companies back then, because they were handing out misinformation, why should we be trusting tobacco control?

When we are alarmed at imaginary dangers how can anyone trust those sort of people? I just think the public, and specifically consumers, should be better served by public health and tobacco control because at the moment they just can’t be trusted.

 

Watch Martin from 55 seconds in

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