According to the statement: "The European Respiratory Society, ERS is opposed to the use of all tobacco and unapproved nicotine delivery products such as cigarettes, chewable tobacco, and emerging products that include electronic cigarettes (e-cigs), snus, dissolvable tobacco and waterpipes. In response to the successful increase in tobacco-free policies, the tobacco industry has developed these new products, allowing consumers to obtain nicotine without the use of a cigarette. ... In general, ERS subscribes to the medical principle of primum non nocere and holds that Tobacco users "should not trade one carcinogenic product for another..."
The Rest of the Story
The rest of the story is that the European Respiratory Society is lying to the public. The Society claims that electronic cigarettes were developed by the tobacco industry. This is false. The tobacco industry played no role in the creation of electronic cigarettes and for the past four years, has had no involvement at all in the electronic cigarette industry. It was only recently, when Lorillard acquired Blu cigs, that the tobacco industry entered the electronic cigarette market. The claim that electronic cigarettes were developed by the tobacco industry is an outright lie.
Not only is the European Respiratory Society lying about the origin of electronic cigarettes, but it is also making a completely unfounded and scientifically unsupported assertion about the carcinogenicity of these products. The claim that electronic cigarettes cause cancer is without scientific evidence. While it is true that trace levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines have been detected in electronic cigarettes, similar trace levels are also present in nicotine gum and nicotine patches. If electronic cigarettes can be said to cause cancer, then so can nicotine replacement therapy.
There is simply no scientific evidence that NRT causes cancer, because it is unclear that the trace levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in these products have any clinical significance, are capable of inducing cancer, or that there has ever been a human case of cancer caused by NRT.
Similarly, there is simply no scientific evidence that electronic cigarettes cause cancer, because it is unclear that the trace levels of tobacco-specific nitrosamines in these products have any clinical significance, are capable of inducing cancer, or that there has ever been a human case of cancer caused by electronic cigarettes.
The statement that the European Respiratory Society is "opposed" to the use of electronic cigarettes is shameful because thousands of people are using these products to successfully stay off cigarettes. Apparently, the Society would rather have these ex-smokers return to smoking than continue to remain ex-smokers with the help of electronic cigarettes. This is an irresponsible position that violates the Society's proclaimed adherence to the principle of "to do no harm." In fact, with this position and advice, the Society is doing tremendous harm.
One possible reason that the European Respiratory Society is taking such an irresponsible position on electronic cigarettes and lying to and misleading the public about these products is that the Chair of its Tobacco Control Committee is Dr. Christina Gratziou, who has collaborated with and received research funding from Pfizer for a study of a competing smoking cessation product: varenicline. Pfizer stands to lose tremendously if electronic cigarettes increase in popularity.
This conflict of interest is not disclosed on the web page where the European Respiratory Society's position on electronic cigarettes is posted. This is inappropriate because the public has a right to know about this conflict of interest in order to properly evaluate the validity and soundness of the Society's position. This is yet another example of the hiding of Big Pharma conflicts of interest by opponents of electronic cigarettes.