Thursday 10 January 2013

The Date Of Guilty Knowledge Is Past For E-Cigs

It's not often you see common sense being exhibited on the usually pro-EU EurActive website, so relish this like you would your personal celebrity heart throb in a bath of chocolate. It's an object lesson in how to turn entrenched anti-smoking rhetoric back on the accusers.
The EU’s new tobacco policy statement, ostensibly designed to promote public health, will have the opposite effect: Far from reducing the toll of “tobacco,” millions will be condemned to ongoing addiction to smoking, half of whom will die as a direct result.
If, as the tobacco control industry repeatedly tells us, one in every two smokers perish because of combustible tobacco, they should surely be desperate to get them off of the habit by any means possible, no?
The World Health Organization predicts that if current trends continue, the likely toll of “tobacco” will amount to one billion lives cut short worldwide. 
By tobacco, however, anyone with knowledge of the spectrum of tobacco-related disease knows it’s the inhalation of cigarette smoke hundreds of thousands of times over decades that would be responsible if that catastrophic prediction comes to pass - the relative harm of non-combustible tobacco and nicotine-delivery products is in the order of one percent that of smoking.
So just think of the huge number of lives which could be saved by snus and e-cigs. For every two who replace smoking with one of the alternatives the EU is outlawing, a death could be avoided. Hey, these are tobacco control stats I'm quoting here. And we know, don't we, that the tobacco control industry are very keen on 'saving lives'.

Don't we?
While some parts of it may have a beneficial impact on smoking rates, albeit minor, the net effect will be, paradoxically but inevitably, damaging to Europeans’ health. The directive proposes to continue (indeed strengthen) the prior ban on Swedish smokeless tobacco, known as snus. 
Worse, restrictions and regulations dealing with the relatively new devices known as e-cigarettes will effectively ban them.
Well, no we don't 'know' that at all any more. Because, as the EU tobacco products directive - and its urgent cheerleading by global tobacco control industry trouser-fillers - proves beyond doubt, it has never, ever, been about health.
So why would any official directive aimed at improving health advocate banning, in effect, effective and relatively harmless nicotine-delivery methods that help smokers quit, while allowing the most harmful consumer product - cigarettes - to keep on killing?
Hmm, could it be that the entire anti-smoking crusade has never been about health?
Continuing the ban on smokeless tobacco in the EU is antithetical to public health for many reasons. Adding what amounts to a ban on e-cigarettes will tie the hands of millions of EU smokers desperate to quit, and force a like amount of successful quitters back on to lethal addictive cigarettes.
Half of whom, according to tobacco controllers, will die because of anti-smoking intransigence. They've said it themselves ... hundreds of times.
Relaxing, not tightening, strictures against harm-reduction products should be implemented in the EU, and as soon as possible, as thousands die needlessly each day from inhaling smoke.
And the families of the 'one in every two' who are denied harm reductive alternatives, due to pharma and tobacco control industry influence and corruption, should sue the EU and myopic tobacco control industrialists until they bleed. They need only to refer to thousands of state-funded tobacco control studies over the decades to gather their evidence. 

Needless to say, stating the stark staringly obvious is always going to spook an industry which has lived on falsities and dogmatic half-truth for decades. So the comments are hilarious as the prime (in fact, only) tobacco control tactic of playing the man not the ball is employed in earnest.

I've said before, haven't I, that e-cigs have immense potential for showing the vast majority of professional anti-smokers up as the evil, degenerate, corrupt, and damaging troughers that they are. But the EU have upped the ante with their absurd ban on snus and e-cigs.

With new evidence coming in all the time, tables could well be turned. It's more than arguable that the "date of guilty knowledge" - a concept ASH, for example, are very well aware of  - for the blinkered tobacco control industry is now past. Tobacco controllers, don't say you weren't warned, eh?

ADDENDUM: I drafted the above yesterday evening, before tuning in to VapourTrailsTV for a Q&A with former ASH Director Clive Bates. So, as it was fresh in my mind, I posted a question to his opinion on the possibility that tobacco controllers might have passed this "date of guilty knowledge" whereby they should be aware that policies which demonise or marginalise e-cigs will negligently cause harm.

He thinks I may have a point. You can see his reply by scrolling to 32:45 below (or just watch the whole thing, of course).

To object to the EU's irresponsible stance on e-cigs, see Bates's excellent article on the best way to do so because "this directive matters to you".


Jay said...

Do we know what the original source for the "one in every two long term smoker will die from smoking" is? I stumbled upon the following line when doing my "regret" post:

"Eventually, however, 50 percent of individuals who have ever smoked will quit (CDC 2005a)" found at

I have no idea if that is where it originated but, cynically, I can see that being twisted into the whole 1 in 2 bollocks stat.

woodsy42 said...

I'm sure their directive will save lives - just like their fishing policy saves fish - Oh right....

Junican said...

I believe that Richard Doll originated that idea in the Doctors Study, but some similar phrase elsewhere, of course. I can't remember which report was the one in which he said that. I suspect that it might have been the 40 year report (around 1991), but it could have been in the 20 year report (around 1971).
I have copies of the reports so I could look it up for you if you wish.

Marcus said...

It should be possible to use smoking mortality statistics to estimate how many lives could be saved by a switch to e-cigarettes. Or, alternately, how many preventable deaths can be attributed directly to those who propose or implement any restrictions or bans on vaping.

The UK Doctors study does indeed state "...About half of all persistent cigarette smokers are killed by their habit—a quarter while still in middle age (35-69 years)..." though the details are more nuanced and granulated than such a broad assertion superficially indicates. The US Nurses' study also estimates that around 64% of smoking nurses die from smoking related causes. The CDC data indicates that 10% of lifelong smokers will suffer from lung cancer.

The Doctors study goes on to conclude;

[...Cessation at age 50 halved the hazard; cessation at 30 avoided almost all of it

On average, cigarette smokers die about 10 years younger than non-smokers

Stopping at age 60, 50, 40, or 30 gains, respectively, about 3, 6, 9, or 10 years of life expectancy...]

ASH state that there are 10 million smokers in the UK. I crude terms, a wholesale switch from smoking to vaping is likely then to save or extend as many as 5 million lives and dramatically improve the health prospects of the remainder of the smoking cohort.

The 'Date of guilty knowledge' argument becomes much more compelling when framed in these terms - those who are campaigning for a ban on e-cigarettes are in fact knowingly harming 20% of the British population.

10 million people living on average 10 years longer than they would otherwise is a lot of harm reduction.