Health trio accused of presenting ‘factual errors’ to e-cig inquiry

Posted by DrMendelsohn on 23 November, 2017

Public Health England has accused three Australian public health anti-vaping advocates of presenting factual errors to the Parliamentary inquiry into e-cigarettes. Full report in the Australian today. Read here (paywall) or below.


The Australian.JPG

Health trio accused of presenting ‘factual errors’ to e-cig inquiry

12:00AM November 24, 2017

Economics Correspondent Sydney, @Adam_Creighton

A British government agency has accused a trio of top Australian public health advocates, including prominent anti-smoking campaigner Simon Chapman, of putting a “series of factual errors” to a parliamentary inquiry into vaping and the use of e-cigarettes, which are effectively illegal in Australia. 

Public Health England, an arm of the British Health Department, has written to a Parliamentary inquiry into electronic cigarettes “to correct” arguments made by professors Chapman, Becky Freeman and Maurice Swanson that it believes misrepresent the evidence around the use of e-cigarettes, which are legal and widely used in England, and Britain’s policy towards them. [Public Health England submission available here].

Far from being “completely different” from the rest of the European Union, which has permitted regulated use of e-cigarettes since 2014, Britain “operates the same detailed approach”.

“On the contrary, the effect of (European regulation) has been to reverse the ban on e-cigarettes in several EU member states, including Finland,” the agency said.

The agency defended a widely cited 2015 British study that claimed smoking e-cigarettes was 95 per cent less harmful than smoking tobacco (because e-cigarettes do not contain carcinogenic tobacco) against claims the authors were influenced by tobacco industry funding.

“The claim is false. Correction or retraction has been received where the claim has been made (in UK media),” it said.

The study helped persuade authorities in Canada, New Zealand and the US to permit controlled e-cigarette use as well. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has recently appeared to rule out relaxing the prohibition on nicotine possession in Australia, citing strong opposition from the National Health and Medical Research Council and federal and state health departments.

Professor Chapman said the British agency was “clutching at straws” and its response was “pathetic”. “They have long been playing policy and campaign catch-up with us,” he told The Australian, arguing there wasn’t enough evidence to claim e-cigarettes were safe and users could transition or relapse back into cigarettes.

Ricardo Polosa, a respiratory physician from the University of Catania, will today in Sydney present data from a study that tracked adult daily e-cigarette users, who had never smoked, for more than three years.

“It is reassuring to know that long-term use with e-cigarettes is unlikely to cause any significant health concerns,” he concluded.

“There is no single easy solution to reducing the burden of disease associated with smoking tobacco but heavily restricting smokers’ access to a safer nicotine products does not support this goal,” said Hayden McRobbie separately, a Queen Mary University specialist in tobacco dependence, who recently visited Australia. “The experience from countries that have made nicotine-containing vaporisers available, with some restrictions, show that the benefits outweigh the potential risks,” he added.

Possessing nicotine, a banned substance outside of tobacco, carries jail terms of up to two years and fines up to $45,000, significantly greater than penalties for drunk driving.


Public Health England submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry

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