Anti-Vaping Crusaders On The Run After Historic E-Cigarette Report

Guy Bentley | Research Associate, Reason Foundation

E-cigarette critics have been left reeling after a 200-page report from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) endorsed vaping as a tool for tobacco harm reduction.

As one of the world’s leading medical institutions, representing 32,000 doctors and famed for its work in tobacco control, the RCP’s intervention carries weight. (RELATED: Game Changer: World Leading Medical Group Backs E-Cigarettes)

Titled “Nicotine without smoke: tobacco harm reduction,” and published April 27, the report could change the debate about e-cigarettes all over the world. The RCP believes e-cigarettes could play a major role in helping people give up smoking and finds no evidence that vaping makes it harder to quit.

But a handful of e-cigarette critics took to the Times newspaper to spread doubt about the report’s conclusions.

“Once again, England seems out of step with medical and public health organizations in the rest of the world, and even the rest of the UK, in its calls to encourage use of e-cigarettes,” the authors wrote in a letter.

“Inexplicably, the Royal College of Physicians report ignores a recent review of 38 studies, published by The Lancet, finding that e-cigarettes are associated with a lower probability of quitting,” they added.

The study the authors refer to became notorious for the amount of criticism it received in the wake of its publication. Writing in The Lancet April 25, professors Peter Hajek, Hayden McRobbie and Chris Bullen didn’t hold back from exposing the holes in the research.

“Lumping incongruous studies together—which were mostly not designed to evaluate the efficacy of e-cigarettes, and contain no useful information on this topic unless misinterpreted—makes no scientific sense in the first place,” they said. (RELATED: Doctors Dismantle Study Claiming E-Cigarettes Don’t Help Smokers)

Former director of the anti-tobacco group Action on Smoking and Health and e-cigarette advocate Clive Bates didn’t hesitate to respond to letter with some sharp words of his own – published in the same newspaper April 30.

“Sir, There was something eerily familiar about the arguments of eight academics disputing the health benefits of e-cigarettes, so carefully described by the Royal College of Physicians in its ground-breaking 2016 report (Letters, April 30).”

“Then the penny dropped: they were just like the arguments of the tobacco industry disputing the health damage of cigarettes, so carefully described by the Royal College of Physicians in its ground-breaking 1962 report.”

“Perhaps these things go in cycles?”

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Guy Bentley

Research Associate, Reason Foundation

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