Monday, July 08, 2013

Another Day, Another E-Cigarette Opponent Fabricates Evidence to Deter Use; This Time, It's the World Health Organization

Hardly a day has gone by during the last week in which an electronic cigarette opponent has failed to fabricate evidence to deter the use of this product. First, it was a physician who stated that lung damage can occur due to temperatures of thousands of degrees, then it was a physician who stated that nicotine delivery is much higher in e-cigarettes than real ones.

Today, I report that the World Health Organization has fabricated a new piece of evidence that is completely false and has no basis in reality: that cigarettes are safer than e-cigarettes because unlike e-cigarettes they have a filter so the nicotine does not go directly to the lungs.

As first reported by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos on his electronic cigarette research blog: "In an unprecedented statement on Philippines national television, Dr Florante Trinidad, technical officer at “Tobacco-Free Initiative”-WHO Western Pacific Region, suggested that electronic cigarettes are more dangerous than tobacco. He [stated]: “The most dangerous thing about this product (e-cigarette) is that the nicotine goes directly to the lungs while regular cigarettes have a filter. With this delivery device the nicotine goes directly to the lungs.”"

Dr. Faraslinos goes on to argue that: "This is a previously-unheard statement. For the first time, a WHO official is publicly and directly suggesting to e-cigarette users (vapers) that it is safer to go back to tobacco cigarettes. Everyone who has seen this video got the same impression. The biggest issue is that this statement is scientifically false, misleading and dangerous for the health of e-cigarette users who may be intimidated and relapse to smoking."

In analyzing the validity of the WHO's statement, Dr. Farsalinos concludes that only one aspect of the statement is true: cigarettes do indeed have a filter. But everything else is fabricated: "in experienced consumers who were using advanced e-cigarette devices, nicotine levels in blood were elevated; still they were much lower than the levels found after smoking. In fact, scientists believe that nicotine delivery and absorption from e-cigarette should be increased so that they become more effective in smoking abstinence. The WHO official says the exact opposite. Is this because he prefers people to smoke rather than substitute tobacco with the much safer e-cigarettes?"

The Rest of the Story

The World Health Organization's fabrication is not only damaging because it is false, but because it could well lead to smokers deciding to continue using their deadly cigarettes instead of switching to far less harmful e-cigarettes. Or even worse, it could lead to ex-smokers who have quit via e-cigarettes returning to cigarette smoking. The statement is completely irresponsible and is tantamount to committing medical malpractice on a global scale.

Moreover, the WHO's statement is irresponsible because it suggests to the public that the filter in cigarettes conveys a degree of safety. If the cigarette companies were to say the same thing, they would find themselves in the courtroom the following day. Yet the World Health Organization can apparently commit scientific fraud with impunity.

This story, considered in light of the previous ones of the same nature, demonstrates the level to which electronic cigarette opponents have sunk. The arguments against a device that is helping millions of smokers to quit or to substantially cut down and to possibly save their lives are so weak that these opponents can only argue against the devices by fabricating evidence.

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