Scientists call criticisms of e cigs alarmist
Claims that electronic cigarettes should be banned in public places are â€˜alarmistâ€™, according to scientists at University College London.
It follows World Health Organisationâ€™s recent statement that e-cigs should face the same kind of regulations as tobacco cigarettes, because they could be increasing levels of nicotine and other toxins in the air.
WHO has also raised concerns that e-cigs are a gateway through which non-smokers go on to smoking cigarettes, despite a recent Smoking Toolkit survey showing that non-smokers who use e-cigs amount to just 1% of the population in the UK.
Professor Robert West of UCL told the BBC: “The vapour contains nothing like the concentrations of carcinogens and toxins as cigarette smoke.
“In fact, concentrations are almost all well below a twentieth of cigarettes.”
The professor says that out of 60,000 current premature deaths caused by smoking, 54,000 could be saved if those people turned to e-cigs instead.
His concerns that WHOâ€™s claims are unfounded are supported by a recent study published in the journal Addiction â€“ in which researchers from the National Addiction Centre at Kings College London and the Tobacco Dependence Unit at Queen Mary University say that some of the assumptions made by WHO are â€˜misleading.â€™
The studyâ€™s leader Professor Peter Hajek told the BBC: â€œI think any responsible regulator proposing restricting regulation has to balance reducing risks with reducing potential benefits.
“In this case the risks are unlikely, some already proven not to exist, while the benefits are potentially enormous. It really could be a revolutionary intervention in public health if smokers switched from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes.
“So killing benefits, which are huge, for risks which are small is like asking people to stop using mobile phones and tablets, or restrict their use and further development, because of a one in 10 million chance that the battery might overheat in your device.”
The WHO has so far not responded to criticisms of its claims but Professor John Ashton, president of the Faculty of Public Health â€“ one of the organisations who have raised similar concerns over e-cigs â€“ says that despite wanting stricter regulations on e-cigs, he doesnâ€™t want them to be banned.
He added that he believes that regulations need to be put in place because of a current lack of solid scientific evidence into the effects of e-cigs.
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