June 29, 2020
Experts have united in criticism of a review by the University of Mainz which conflates the harm between vape products, shisha use and traditional cigarettes.
The report led to headlines around the world declaring that both vaping and tobacco smoking were responsible for stiffening arteries and causing lung disease. Yet, scientists and experts in tobacco control and medicine were quick to respond and put the results in context.
Prof John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies and Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, University of Nottingham described the study as an “unsystematic overview… and of questionable reliability”. He pointed to the fact that the review shows e-cigarette use increases the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by 194% but that this is a disease which takes decades to manifest meaning that the relatively recent arrival of e-cigarettes is unlikely to be a factor.
John Dunne, director at the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) said: “We are disappointed to see that highly questionable reviews such as this continue to undermine the clear public health potential of vaping. With more than 75,000 people dying of smoking-related diseases every year in the UK, it is vital that harm-reduction tools, such as vape products which have been acknowledged by Public Health England as one of the most successful ways to quit smoking, are evaluated correctly, and not subjected to speculation and scare-stories.
Dr Nick Hopkinson, reader in Respiratory Medicine at Imperial College London, responded to the report by underlining the overall benefits to health vaping offers if smokers use it as a tool to quit:
“No serious commentator claims that vaping is completely harmless, but the hazard compared to smoking is much lower. In the long-term smokers who have switched to vaping should be encouraged to quit vaping too, though not at the expense of going back to smoking. Non-smokers should avoid vaping.”