NNA1 is very concerned by the latest attempt by Jonathon Gornall, writing in the British Medical Journal2 , to undermine the report commissioned and published in August by Public Health England on the subject of e-cigarettes3.
There is no doubt that smoking is a harmful activity, however people smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar which is a by product of combustion. E-cigarettes and other harm reduced nicotine products have the potential to be a massive public health prize if smokers can be given the confidence to switch to them. In their recent evidence based report PHE estimate that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking. Recent surveys however, have clearly shown that there are a significant and increasing number of people who incorrectly assess the relative safety of e-cigarettes as being overly harmful when compared to smoking traditional cigarettes4 . This misperception has the potential to cause real harm to those smokers who might otherwise switch.
Criticism of the report based on quibbles over the 95% figure and tenuous insinuations of conflicts of interest in relation to some of the authors of one study out of the 180 cited within it do nothing but create doubt in the public mind, which discourages smokers from switching to the safer product and ultimately, harms their health.
Lorien Jollye, Trustee of the New Nicotine Alliance and a vaper said:
“Whilst it is of course important to ensure that information such as the PHE estimate that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking is as accurate as possible based on current evidence, it is more important still that consumers understand the message being put forward. This means that messaging must be clear and unambiguous and framed within their personal experience. This is what the PHE report sought to achieve”
Sarah Jakes, Trustee of the New Nicotine Alliance and a vaper said:
“As Professors of Public Health, scientists and journalists fight out their battles through the pages of scientific journals and newspapers, smokers and vapers are left unsure about how these products may benefit them. The negative health impact that such confusion brings to every smoker who is discouraged by it should weigh heavily on the conscience of all of those who put pen to paper without considering the consequences of their words.”
1. NNA is the New Nicotine Alliance (UK), a UK registered charity which is concerned with improving public health, through a greater understanding of “new” (risk-reduced) nicotine products and their uses. 6 out of 8 of the trustees of the charity are ex-smokers who have switched to using e-cigarettes. NNA has no ties or affiliations with any nicotine industry including the tobacco, pharmaceutical or e-cigarette industries.
2. Public Health England’s troubled trail: http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h5826
3. E-cigarettes: An Evidence Update: Link to report in PDF format