The World Health Organisation: is it fit for purpose?

My answer to that question is a resounding no. But don't take my word for it. In this excellent piece in the Huffington Post, David Williams, President of the Taxpayers' Protection Alliance highlights that in Australia, which has been dubbed the "nanny state capital of the word", a former Labor Minister has condemned WHO for its "draconian policies and lack of transparency". And he's right.  If you agree with WHO on its policies on tobacco and vaping, it will talk to you. If you disagree, you are not let through the door. Its thinking is so blinkered, it would rather destroy the vaping industry than work with all stakeholders to achieve sensible and workable tobacco harm reduction solutions.  Continue reading

Public Health England praises e-cigarettes

If, like me, you weren't listening to BBC Radio 4 at 6.50 am today, please listen to the interview with Prof. Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England. (A recording of the interview is below)  He said that the NHS should continue to help people give up smoking using a range of methods and went on to describe e-cigarettes as "the number one quit aid". When he was questioned about vaping bans, he said now that the evidence is evolving and we know more, now is the time for us to look at our policies to ensure that we are not sending out mixed messages, or creating circumstances that can actually keep smokers smoking.  Although I may not agree with Prof. Fenton on everything, he gets it, which is more than can be said about the World Health Organisation. 

Study reveals lung benefit from vaping

An interesting report on the website of the American Council on Science and Health. A new study asked the question: what exactly happens to the lungs when someone stops smoking and starts vaping? Here is the methodology and results:  The participants’ lung function (spirometry indices) as well as reported symptoms (coughing/phlegm, wheezing, chest pressure, and shortness of breath) were recorded at baseline and subsequent visits.  The follow-up period was 1 year.  At the end of the study period, the authors stratified the final participants into three groups based on their final smoking status: Quitters:  completely abstained from smoking Reducers: cut back their daily cigarettes   Failures: were unable to do either  When spirometry data was analyzed across the 3 groups, large airway function (FEV1, FVC, FEV1/FVC) was not impacted by smoking abstinence or reduction.  What was seen, however, was significant improvement in small, peripheral airway function (FEF 25-75%) in those who completely quit smoking.  This improvement was from 85.7±15.6% at baseline to 100.8±14.6% at 1 year, as a percentage what is predicted to be normal.     The most common symptoms reported by participants were cough/phlegm (43%), and shortness of breath (34.8%).  At the end of the study period, there was progressive improvement, and eventually, complete resolution of these symptoms not only in the “quitter” but also the “reducer” group.  This benefit was not realized by the “failure” group. The study results suggest that completely abstaining from combustible cigarettes may benefit even healthy smokers reverse some subtle lung changes. In those struggling to quit smoking, even reducing exposure to daily cigarette smoke can have a measurable impact on quality of life.   Is the World Health Organisation listening? It should be. The evidence just keep mounting up that vaping is vastly better for your health, but don't expect to hear much of that at the COP7 conference in Delhi in November. 

WHO makes its position clear on e-cigarettes

In a report so full of jargon that you lose the will to live ploughing your way through it, the World Health Organisation (WHO) made its position clear this week on e-cigarettes - and it's not positive, although that is not entirely unexpected. To increase its jargon usage, not only do we have ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems), we also have a new acronym, ENNDS (Electronic Non-Nicotine Delivery Systems). As I wrote on 23 August, WHO would rather people continue to smoke than admit the free market was more effective in tobacco harm reduction than it was. It's about saving face, not saving lives. This report will now be considered at the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties (COP7) in Delhi in November  Even though the UK's Royal College of Physicians states that "the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5% of the harm from smoking tobacco" and that "e-cigarettes appear to be effective when used by smokers as an aid to quitting smoking", WHO wants to restrict anyone from saying that ENDS are safer than tobacco, and still say there isn't enough evidence to say ENDS are successful in getting smokers to quit. And as you would expect from WHO, it proposes more draconian regulations in what can only be described as an all out assault on vapers and vaping. Continue reading

Another vaping scare story care of The Sun

Last week, the front page of The Sun exclaimed that vaping was as bad as smoking. Vaping damages key blood vessels, the newspaper said. The fact that consuming caffeine has the same effect, didn't seem to matter. Watching your favourite team play sport also has the same effect, but of course no-one would say that drinking tea and coffee or getting excited at a football match is as bad for your health as lighting up a cigarette.  Today, The Sun is warning of the dangers of e-cigarette advertising.  "A new study suggests the adverts make occasional tobacco smoking more appealing." Naturally, this has an expert worried. Cue Dr. Milica Vasiljevic from Cambridge University, who said:  “While we can be optimistic that the adverts don’t seem to make tobacco smoking more appealing to young people, they do appear to make occasional smoking seem less harmful. “This is worrying, as we know that even occasional tobacco smoking is bad for your health, and young people who smoke occasionally believe they are somehow immune to its effects and do not feel the need to quit.” Continue reading