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Vaping still 95% safer.

Vaping still 95% safer.

 Notorious anti-vaping figure Simon Chapman has contributed to a paper attempting to disprove the 95% safer figure, but authors ended up coming out with an “empty and feeble piece of work”.

The 95% safer figure has been supported by both Public Health England, the Royal College of Physicians, as well as a number of other UK public health organisations. The paper attempts to disprove it by referencing a collection of, albeit mainly American, studies, noting such phrases as “ultra fine particles” and “acute lipid pneumonia”.

Noted harm reduction expert Clive Bates stated, “I thought this might be a better critique than it actually is. But somewhat to my surprise, it is very poor indeed”, adding the paper was a “feeble and empty critique.”

Dissecting their six points, Bates goes on to say:

  • They make a serious error to say the 95% figure comes from a 2013 paper. “PHE and RCP assessments were made by their own independent expert scientists in the course of formulating their extensive evidence reviews in 2015 and 2016 respectively (PHE 2015, RCP 2016).”
  • “The authors claim that advances in e-cigarettes – notably the rise of nicotine salts – make them more dangerous. Yes, they are different: today’s electronic cigarettes are better than in 2013. This is known as ‘progress’ and this also includes progress on safety and risk reduction.”
  • On toxicity: “Yes, in vitro studies – cells outside the body exposed to vapour aerosol – do show some effects on cells. This is unsurprising. However, many of these studies use excessive (or opaque) exposures that are poor analogues for human exposure, and often without credible cigarette smoke comparators.”
  • On harm: “The authors cite a study where the observed effects are obviously confounded by cigarette smoking and then point to relatively trivial (and often transitory) symptoms associated with e-cigarette use (‘wheezing’). They misrepresent the acute cardiovascular risk data, misrepresent the evidence on carbonyls. Once again, they fail to show that any harms they do identify come anywhere close to five per cent of the massive toll of harm done by smoking.”
  • “The authors claim that vaping causes more smoking through gateway effects and reduced smoking cessation – an endlessly refuted claim. It isn’t even relevant to the relative risk of vaping and smoking and the 95 per cent claim that is the subject of this paper”.
  • Finally, on being harmless: “It is not enough to assert that there is a non-zero absolute risk to challenge a claim about relative risk, in this case on second-hand exposures.  Once again, this section is not really relevant to the PHE/RCP relative risk claim, which is directed at active users. Even if indoor vaping is regarded as a nuisance and matter of poor etiquette by some, it is unlikely to present remotely the kind of risks caused by second-hand smoke.”
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