The misinformation about vaping is ubiquitous. From national news stories to misinformation about lung diseases, to small-scale events at schools around the country, which often feature speakers from anti-vaping organizations, the message is always the same: Vaping is dangerous!
And sadly, this lie was repeated last month by the World Health Organization, which published a dishonest update to its Q&A document on e-cigarettes. In it, the WHO lied about the risks associated with using e-cigarettes, saying “There is no doubt that they [e-cigs] are harmful to health and are not safe, but it is too early to provide a clear answer on the long-term impact of using them or being exposed to them.” (Filter Magazine has a goods story on it here)
That is completely false!
First, rigorous, highly respected research has been done on the safety of e-cigarettes, whish has shown vaping is far more (to the tune of 95 percent) safer than traditional, combustible cigarettes. That’s according to the UK’s Royal College of Physicians and Public health England, which have exhaustively studied the safety of e-cigarettes. Cancer Research UK also confirms that vaping is safer than smoking and recommends smokers switch to vaping for health reasons.
Secondly, it’s simply false that no long-term studies have been conducted on e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes are not new to the marketplace. They’ve been around for more than a decade and have been a major disruptor to the tobacco industry. They’re also the reason we see historic low rates of smoking among all demographics—teens, adults, all races, men and women. And this decade’s worth of health studies show, conclusively, that e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to traditional smoking.
And that’s not all. More recent studies have shown that smokers who switch to vaping are twice as likely to remain smoke-free. That’s a critical point often ignored by the anti-vaping crowd. Public health officials should be applauding a product that helps people stay away from dangerous habits. Instead, they lie about the product—ensuring people who might want to switch won’t, or that those who have made the switch might switch back because of the lies they hear from reputable organizations like the WHO.
What’s even more depressing is that the false information is winning. A recent poll conducted by IWF confirms this: 79 percent of respondents thought nicotine caused cancer and other cardiovascular and lung diseases. Another 12 percent were unsure. Only 9 percent of respondents knew the correct answer–that nicotine is not linked to cancer or cardiovascular and lung diseases.
Nicotine’s main side effects are an increase in adrenaline, which can cause a faster heartbeat, and a spike in blood pressure—similar results after drinking a cup of coffee. Yet, nicotine is not harmless. It is highly addictive and because it causes changes to the cardiovascular system, people with heart conditions shouldn’t vape or smoke.
It’s important to note though, that despite nicotine not being risk free, the FDA does approve two other nicotine delivery systems—gum and patches—to help people quit traditional cigarettes. If nicotine were carcinogenic, the FDA would never allow it in the marketplace. Vaping is really no different. It’s a tool that should be available to current smokers who want to quit traditional cigarettes.
When public health officials lie about vaping—saying it’s dangerous or harmful—they are doing an incredible disservice to current nicotine addicts—taking away a tool that has shown to be twice as effective at helping smokers quit.
Officials at the WHO should know better.