Thursday, June 12, 2014

UCSF Scientists Tell FDA They are Not Sure Smoking is Any More Dangerous than Vaping

In a comment submitted to the FDA regarding its proposed e-cigarette deeming regulations, a trio of UCSF scientists argue that it is premature to declare that there is a continuum of risk among nicotine-containing products, including tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes.

They write: "The idea of a “spectrum of risk” or “continuum of risk” among tobacco and nicotine delivery products is logical. However at this time it is a hypothesis lacking sufficient empirical evidence to use as a basis for regulatory decisions. ... The FDA should not predicate regulatory actions on the assumption that any tobacco or nicotine delivery product is substantially safer than another until the improved safety profile has been demonstrated by a substantial body of peer-reviewed scientific research."

They conclude: "Taken together, these studies demonstrate unequivocally that products and devices that deliver respirable particles and nicotine are inherently dangerous. The “Spectrum of Risk” is an unproven hypothesis with potentially deadly effects on the public health. FDA should not deem any tobacco or nicotine product to be safer than another, until it is proven to be safer through a substantial and consistent body of peer-reviewed scientific research."

The Rest of the Story

These scientists are arguing that it is premature to declare that there is any difference in risk between a tobacco cigarette, which burns tobacco, and an electronic cigarette, which contains no tobacco and involves no combustion, but merely heats nicotine in a solution of propylene glycol and glycerin.

In other words, they are telling the FDA that at the present time, they cannot conclude that cigarette smoking is any more harmful than vaping.

What a damaging and irresponsible public statement to make!

They are essentially telling smokers that they are perhaps just as well off continuing to smoke cigarettes as switching to electronic cigarettes because we are not sure that the e-cigarettes are any safer.

We have an epidemiological term for what we would call it were a physician to make precisely such a statement to a patient: ...

... malpractice.

There is absolutely no question that vaping is safer than smoking and that smokers who switch to electronic cigarettes are improving their health. To suggest otherwise is scientifically irresponsible, in my opinion. It undermines years of public education about the dangers of cigarette smoking. Even Big Tobacco would not claim that their products are as safe as non-combusted, non-tobacco-containing, electronic cigarettes.

However, these UCSF scientists are making precisely such a claim.

These researchers conclude, in the same comment, that electronic cigarettes cause heart disease, heart attacks, and pulmonary disease. There is inadequate evidence for any of those assertions.

The ultimate irony is that while these researchers do not believe there is sufficient evidence to conclude that smoking is any more harmful than vaping, they do believe there is enough evidence to conclude - already - that vaping causes heart disease, heart attacks, and pulmonary disease. Even the most hardened e-cigarette opponents, including Glantz himself, have not gone that far.

1 comment:

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