Former Tobacco Control Advisor Delivers Passionate Defense of E-Cigarettes
As the former scientific advisor on tobacco control to the UK government, Linda Bauld is well acquainted with the dangers of smoking. She has spent her life trying to help smokers escape from tobacco addiction and now she is calling for truth in reporting in regards to electronic cigarettes. Bauld recently delivered a passionate defense of e-cigarettes in the Guardian, where she refuted a number of myths and offered evidence that ecigs are not as harmful as smoking.
Bauld’s statesment were issued in response to an article written by Nash Riggins, claiming that electronic cigarettes are just as deadly as tobacco smokes. While Riggins made no apologies for his anti-vaping views, Bauld said the information he presented was false and misleading and she wanted to set the record straight. “To reach such a conclusion, Riggins overlooks an extraordinary body of evidence,” Bauld wrote. “Disregarding this evidence could mean missing out on the potential of e-cigarettes to save lives.”
Bauld said that there is no denying that cigarettes are lethal and she reported that one out of two regular smokers die from smoking-related causes. Smokers die an average of ten years earlier than their peers. But e-cigarettes do not function the same ways as cigarettes and by getting rid of tar and tobacco, mortality is drastically reduced and possibly eliminated.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the Medicines Healthcare Regulatory Association both believe vaping is safer than smoking based on known scientific research. Bauld said that ecigs are not risk-free, but they are far safer than continued use of tobacco products.
In the original piece, Riggins had argued against ecigs by blaming the nicotine. He said, “E-cigs don’t contain the same type of nicotine you might find in an ordinary tobacco leaf. They contain liquid nicotine, which can be lethal.” Bauld argued that Riggins was wrong in his understanding of nicotine. “Nicotine is a substance found in particular plants, not just tobacco leaves but aubergines, tomatoes, potatoes, and some flowers,” she said.
“Although synthetic nicotine has been manufactured, it is not commercially viable and the nicotine in electronic cigarette liquid comes from exactly the same source as the nicotine in tobacco – it is extract from plants including the tobacco leaf. That is also the source for nicotine in nicotine replacement therapy.”
Bauld went on to explain that liquid nicotine would be fatal if the user were to drink it, but the same is true for many household products and even nicotine replacement therapies. She said that while e-liquids should be packaged properly to avoid accidents, it is not lethal when used properly.
She also pointed out that banning ecigs in public places is problematic because at some point in the near future, some ecigs will be properly licensed as medications for people that hope to stop smoking. That would basically render bans unworkable. Even today, she said the bans are destructive. “They simply serve to discourage smokers from trying what appears to currently be the most popular aid to stopping smoking in the UK.”
Ultimately, electronic cigarettes are not the enemy and Bauld is very clear that people should do their research before making blanket statements that condemn electronic cigarettes and paint them as the villain. This is a big step in the right direction when we have public health experts to speak up and defend e-cigarettes. Hopefully, we will see more of these stories in the future!