- FAMRI Center
More evidence that UK health advocates have made it into a lab to test whether e-cigs will reduce -- or increase -- harm
Of all countries grappling with e-cigarettes, health advocates in the UK have been the most optimistic that they would actually reduce harm. ASH UK has even said that it"does not consider it appropriate to include e-cigarettes under smokefree regulations," opening the door for normalization of e-cigarette use everywhere.
The hope is, as John Britton recently wrote, that smokers will switch the less dangerous e-cigarettes or use them to quit nicotine use altogether. No one seems to be considering the possibility that the aggressiive marketing of e-cigarettes will increase youth initiation or deter quitting enough to offset any drop in individual harm from switching from conventional cigarettes to e-cigarettes. (Dual users, who simultaneously use both products, are unlikely to see much, in any, health benefit because of the continued cigarette use, even if daily consumption drops.)
Last week the New York Times described how e-cigarettes are bringing back 1950s-style cigarette advertising in the US. Now e-cigarettes are bringing back youth sports sponsorship in Wales, where an e-cigarette company is sponsoring a local football (soccer) club.
According to the BBC story, public health advocates are expressing concern:
But BMA Cymru Wales, responding to the renaming of Merthyr's ground [the stadium], said the sale and use of E-cigarettes needed to be regulated urgently
"to ensure they are safe, quality assured and effective at helping smokers to cut down or quit".
"We need to restrict their marketing, sale and promotion so that it is only targeted at smokers as a way of cutting down and quitting and does not appeal to non-smokers, in particular children and young people," said senior public affairs officer John Jenkins.
Campaigner Elen de Lacy, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) in Wales, said they were also concerned about marketing to children.
"It is important that E-cigarettes are only promoted to adult smokers and we oppose the marketing of this product to young people through sponsorship of a family friendly stadium," she said.
The reality, however, that e-cigarette companies are out to make as much money as fast as they can, not comport with naive ideas about how the products will be marketed and used narrowly to help people quit smoking (whether they continue with e-cigarettes or not). They are not interested in the kind of academic hair splitting that has dominated discussions of e-cigarettes among health authorities.
With the house well out of the barn, we should all watch what happens in the UK over the next couple years.
If the optimists turn out to be right, other countries can try and allow introduction of e-cigarettes. If, on the other hand, youth nicotine addiction and dual use start to increase and cessation drops, we can all learn from the UK's mistake.