British Medical Journal Criticizes Public Health England’s Pro-Vape Position
Earlier this week, Public Health England made headlines when they suggested NHS should provide ecigarettes to smokers as an alternative to help them kick the tobacco habit. The highly respected health division stated that ecigs are 95 percent safer than smoking, but not everyone was convinced. In a report published in The Lancet, health experts claim that Public Health England’s study cannot be trusted because it was partially funded by the ecigarette industry.
PHE’s study was largely based on a 2014 paper written by David Nutt, a former UK government chief drug advisor and his colleagues. After testing different nicotine products, health experts found that cigarettes were the most harmful at 99 percent, while ecigs only had only 4 percent of the relative harm. This is where PHE based their claim that vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking.
The Lancet revealed that the paper’s authors were not unbiased in their study of electronic cigarettes because several had traceable ties to ecigs or smoking cessation groups. In the original paper, the authors mentioned their affiliations as a potential conflict of interest, but PHE left this information out in their report.
“PHE clams that it protects and improves the nation’s health and wellbeing. On this occasion, it has fallen short of its mission,” The Lancet said.
Even in the face of this criticism, PHE said it stands by the information provided in this week’s report. They also hope to continue providing more research to back their stance that vaping could save thousands of lives each year.
As always, it seems that the ecig industry moves one step forward and two steps back. Any time pro-vaping news is released, critics are fast to try to find a loophole. They call for more research, more detailed studies, or more careful reports. Yet when that information is released, it’s still not enough.
Do you think Public Health England’s recommendations were fair and balanced? Does this new information from The Lancet hurt the credibility of the earlier study?