With all the negative publicity electronic cigarettes have been getting lately, it seems that every anti-smoking organization and tobacco policy expert is hellbent on throwing them in the same boat as tobacco cigarettes. Luckily, that’s not the case. John Britton, Director of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies (UKCTCS), believes e-cigarettes could actually save millions of lives.
Professor John Britton, chairman of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group and Head of the Department for Epidemiology and Public Health at Nottingham City University has an extensive experience in smoking prevention, and he believes electronic cigarettes are infinitely safer than tobacco cigarettes. During a BBC radio program on e-cigarettes, Prof. Britton said “cigarettes are a profoundly dangerous product, they kill half of all regular users, so it’s very hard to imagine that a product that delivers nicotine in a solution even with some contaminants could even touch that for risk.” Comparing the two on a danger scale, he placed tobacco smokes at 100, and electronic cigarettes at “under 5”. Obviously the moderator was shocked by the big difference, but Britton said he had almost no doubt about it.
According to Mr. Britton, judging by what we know about electronic cigarettes right now, any danger of using them is linked to the fact that we don’t really know what all the different e-liquids contain. The professor has always argued that electronic cigarettes are probably a very good thing for public health, and in another interview with the BBC, he went as far as to say that if all the active smokers were to switch to e-cigarettes, up to 5 million lives could be saved. At the same time he did mention the need for some sort of regulation that would ensure all vaping related products don’t have any hazardous things in them that shouldn’t be there, and that manufacturers don’t abuse the market by trying to target minors or keep people smoking instead of helping them quit. “But those abuses aside, for the great majority of people I think electronic cigarettes are going to be a very good thing,” Prof. Britton said.
When the BBC program moderator said the danger is that vapers are basically just switching their nicotine addiction from cigarettes to e-cigarettes, the professor replied that “the effects of nicotine on the human body are probably on par with caffeine” to which nearly the entire British population is addicted, yet nobody gives that a second thought. “People could use nicotine for the rest of their lives without significant damage to their health if they wanted to, what kills them is the cigarette smoke,” Britton said. About the benefits of switching from tobacco cigs to e-cigarettes, John Britton says “it’s a no-brainer. If you are a cigarette smoker moving to electronic cigarettes, that would be an extremely positive move. If it’s a choice between electronic cigarette or smoking tobacco, go with an electronic cigarette.”
It’s nice to see someone take a pragmatic approach when it comes to e-cigarettes instead of jumping on the “let’s ban them” bandwagon. There may not be that many supporters of these revolutionary device, but the fact that reputed doctors and researchers like John Britton, Michael Siegel, or Jean Francois Etter defend the use of electronic cigarettes as a less dangerous alternative to smoking could inspire others to give them a chance. Like Professor Britton says, it might even save their lives.
via E-Cig Advanced