"There is a scientific consensus that e-cigarettes are less harmful to smokers and their environment than traditional cigarettes. There is also clear evidence that ecigs help smokers quit, more effectively than nicotine medicines."
So says Jamie Hartmann-Boyce of the Cohcrane Tobacco Addiction Group, in response to the WHO's campaign against e-cigarettes.
WHO wants to ban e-cigarettes. The Swedish government wants to banning virtually all flavourings in the e-liquid, something that Denmark and Finland have already done so. But in United Kingdom, where the government, together with authorities and a range of health organisations, is investing billions in research on e-cigarettes, bans and tighter restrictions are the wrong way to go.
"Smoking is unique in terms of deadly consequences and for some people it is very difficult to quit. E-cigarettes are not risk-free, and former non-smokers should not start using them. But from public health authorities, the message to smokers must be crystal clear. Nicotine is addictive but not the cause of the harm that smoking causes," says Mr Perez. Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, doctor and head of research at the Department of Health Behaviours at the University of Oxford.
Evidence suggests that e-cigs work
Jamie Hartmann-Boyce, is responsible for Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group - part of the Cochrane Library, which evaluates health care practices based on evidence and quality studies from around the world. The group recently published an updated summary of randomised control trials focusing on e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation method. In total, the researchers summarised 56 studies with a total of 12,800 participants. The studies compared e-cigarettes with other nicotine medicines for a period of at least 6 months.
"The evidence suggests that e-cigarettes with nicotine can indeed help smokers quit smoking. The evidence also says that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking." says Jamie Hartmann-Boyce.
Getting side effects with e-cigarettes
According to the report (which began in 2014), e-cigarettes are associated with twice as many successful quit attempts compared to traditional nicotine medicines. E-cigarette users also report few problems associated with quitting smoking. Cough, headache, dry mouth and dizziness are common but transient side effects.
"We couldn't find many reports that showed harm from e-cigarette use, but the studies that did follow up on this only went back two years. It is important that we monitor this continuously," writes Mr J.friend Hartmann-Boyce and her colleagues in the report.
Critical of the WHO
Jamie Hartmann-Boyce however, reacts strongly to Recent WHO statements on e-cigarettes. The organisation proposes to severely restrict or even ban electronic cigarettes. The reasoning is that the products should be categorised as harmful.
"The WHO's decision to label e-cigarettes as "harmful" risks frightening reluctant smokers and those who are trying to quit smoking. The report should not discourage smokers from switching to vaping. In fact, there is a scientific consensus that vaping is less harmful than smoking, both for smokers and those around them," said Mr Higgins. Jamie Hartmann-Boyce.
"As safe as nicotine medicines - but better"
She is joined by John Britton, Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham and Advisor on Tobacco Issues at the European Commission. British Medical Association (He said it is clear that the WHO has not understood what the research really shows: that e-cigarettes are an important tool to tackle smoking worldwide and that the technology outperforms previous methods.
"The WHO continues to advocate approaches based on nicotine medicines. It is hypocritical when they simultaneously propose bans on consumer products that are just as safe and work in the same way, but much better," said Mr Perez. John Britton to Science Media Centre.