(4 June) A total of 53 physicians and professors from around the world have put their name to a letter, addressed to Dr Margaret Chan of the WHO, which states that "tobacco harm reduction products" such as e-cigarettes, could "play a significant role in meeting the 2025 UN non-communicable disease (NCD) objectives by driving down smoking prevalence and cigarette consumption."
The letter goes on to say: "If regulators treat low-risk nicotine products as traditional tobacco products and seek to reduce their use without recognising their potential as low-risk alternatives to smoking, they are improperly defining them as part of the problem."
The 53 experts, which include medical experts from the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, France, South Africa, New Zealand, China and a number of European countries, said that tobacco harm reduction is "part of the solution, not part of the problem", adding that it would be "counterproductive" to ban the advertising of e-cigarettes and other "low-risk alternatives to smoking."
Their position is different to that of Minister Reilly, who noted recently (14 May) his concerns that the "policy objective of denormalisation of tobacco use could be compromised by the open use of e-cigarettes in places where cigarette smoking is prohibited."
The Minister added: "If we allow e-cigarettes to facilitate people to continue with a habit that resembles smoking, we will undermine the public health policy of denormalising smoking, particularly where children are present. […] Whereas anecdotal evidence is emerging regarding the assistance of such devices in achieving smoking cessation, no hard evidence supports this conclusively."
Checkout asked the Department of Health whether it would be changing its position on e-cigarettes following the publication of the letter.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department told Checkout, "With regard to any further regulation, the Department of Health is monitoring existing and emerging evidence on the potential harm and the potential benefits of e-cigarettes with a view to deciding the best approach."
© 2014 - Checkout Magazine by Stephen Wynne-Jones