'Surgeon General report on e-cigarettes based more on fiction than facts'

Posted by DrMendelsohn on 6 September, 2017


In an unprecedented attack, four leading researchers have called into question the scientific integrity of the 2016 Surgeon General’s report on e-cigarettes which was claimed to be highly misleading. They conclude that the report was based more on ideology than science and was not a fair representation of the evidence.

The study by Professor Riccardo Polosa and colleagues was published today in the highly regarded Harm Reduction Journal.

The Surgeon General is America's Chief Medical Officer who provides official health information to the public and guides health policy. Past Surgeon General reports have provided valuable, authoritative reports on key health issues.

However, this time the SG, Dr Vivek Murthy (who has just been replaced) seems to have got it wrong on e-cigarettes. The report claims that e-cigarettes are a risk to public health because of their impact on young people. In fact, their use is negligible among young people who do not smoke and has been associated with a sharp decline in youth smoking rates. It is much more likely that they are leading to substantial improvements in the overall health of the population.

E-cigarettes are mostly being used by adult smokers as a less harmful alternative to smoking. According to the critique, denying their role for tobacco harm reduction ‘has huge potential to ADD to the death toll’ from smoking.

The study has important implications for Australian policy on e-cigarettes which is currently being reviewed by two federal Parliamentary Inquiries. Documents such as the reports of the Surgeon General and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are generally influential and authoritative. However, the validity of both have now been called into question.

The WHO report was harshly criticised by the highly respected United Kingdom Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) last year in a detailed analysis.


Media release
2016 Surgeon General Report on E-cigarettes in youth was based more on fiction than facts

Polosa R. A critique of the U.S. SG's conclusions regarding e-cig use among youth and young adults in US. Harm Red J 2017

United Kingdom Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) critique of WHO report
Commentary on who report on electronic nicotine delivery systems and electronic non-nicotine delivery systems


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