E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

Recommending E-Cigarettes as Safer Alternative to Smoking Is “Irresponsible”, Researcher Claims

Dr Stuart Flint, a psychologist and Senior Research Fellow at Leeds Beckett’s Carnegie School of Sport, in Leeds, UK, recently published an opinion letter in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine Journal, in which he slams health organisations for promoting e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to smoking.

“Until substantial evidence has been gathered on the health implications of e-cigarettes, the promotion of e-cigarettes by health organisations is irresponsible, unethical, and potentially harmful,” Dr. Flint writes in his strongly-worded letter. “We need to understand more about the potential health effects of E-cigarettes before they’re used as an alternative for stopping smoking. Preliminary evidence even suggests e-cigarette use may actually have a harmful effect in relevant patient groups.”

Flint wrote his letter in response to the UK’s National Health Service’s decision to include electronic cigarettes in its annual “Stoptober” stop-smoking campaign, for the very first time. This historic breakthrough gave birth to the “Swaptober”, another campaign which aims to convert smokers from traditional cigarettes to electronic cigarettes.

While the goal of switching to a vaping as a first step to smoking cessation may seem laudable, Dr Stuart Flint believes that e-cigarette companies do not actually encourage smoking cessation, but a long-turn swap to keep consumers using their products. This again leads us to the long-term effects of vaping on the human body, which have not been sufficiently researched.

“Thus, Swaptober, which occurs at the same time as Stoptober, could overshadow and reduce the effectiveness of Stoptober. In line with NICE guidance, smoking cessation should be encouraged, not the swapping to an alternative that is not fully understood,” the Leeds psychologist writes.

Dr. Flint is also very sceptical about the evidence of vaping being an effective smoking cessation or reduction tool, describing it as “very-low quality, at best” and “insufficient”. Furthermore, he refers to the conclusion reached by Public Health England that e-cigarettes are 95% less dangerous than smoking as “premature”, and mentions that it has been questioned by other public health experts.

“Given that further understanding of the health implications of e-cigarettes is needed, promotion to the public, including youth and vulnerable populations who are at risk of shorter-term effects, is not an appropriate implementation strategy,” Flint writes.

So basically, Dr. Flint would rather the NHS stick to traditional smoking cessation therapies, because we just don’t know enough about the long-term effects of vaping. Only traditional nicotine replacement therapies have such a low success rate that most people don’t even bother trying them anymore, and drugs like Chantix have their share of dangerous side-effects. But better the devil you know, right?

It sounds like the Leeds researcher would rather the UK’s stop-smoking efforts move at a snail’s pace rather than take a chance on something new with the potential to be a game changer, simply because we don’t know its long-term effects. There is a reason why that is, though. They’ve only been around since 2003 and only appeared on researchers’ radar less than a decade ago. Not to mention that governments appear more interested in passing strict regulations rather than fund long-term clinical studies.

In fact, the closest thing we have to a long-term study on the  effects of vaping was just released by the University of Catania, in Italy. It followed a small group of vapers who had never smoked tobacco over a period of 3.5 years, and found no negative effects whatsoever. But that’s probably not nearly long enough for Mr. Flint, and I agree that we should definitely keep studying them, but the question is this – should we keep sacrificing people to tobacco smoke until we find all the answers we seek?

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