IBVTA statement on editorial in the American Journal of Public Health
An editorial has been published in the American Journal of Public Health by authors which include Thomas Eissenberg, PhD, Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Tobacco Products at Virginia Commonwealth University.
The editorial should infuriate anyone with an interest or stake in the science which informs public health policy, because it perpetuates the same arguments which do not stand up to scrutiny through examination of the available evidence. It takes us back to the “we just don’t know enough” position, and in our opinion, that is reckless.
In a EurekAlert news release concerning the editorial, Eissenberg claims, “The fact is: we don’t know whether e-cigarette use is as lethal as combustible cigarette use, less lethal than combustible cigarette use, or more lethal than combustible cigarette use”. This is absolutely not a factual statement.
Contrary to Eissenberg et al’s claims, “in vivo’’ evidence since reviews conducted in 2013 and 2015, actually points to e-cigarettes being even less harmful than previously thought. By way of example of the plethora of this evidence, one can look at a study by researchers from University College London and King’s College, London, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York; and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.
This study, which looked at both nicotine levels and biomarkers for major toxicants associated with tobacco use, found no evidence that long-term e-cigarette–only use was associated with greater levels of carcinogens or toxins than NRT-only use and that on some measures, e-cigarette–only use was associated with lower levels. The findings added to the evidence that complete substitution of combustible cigarettes with e-cigarettes substantially reduces the risk of cancer, and cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases which are associated with smoking.
Commenting on the Eissenberg et al editorial, Dr. Michael Siegel, Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, said, “Imagine if a tobacco company came out today and publicly claimed that smoking might very well be safer than using an e-cigarette. It would be a completely irresponsible statement and the company would rightly be vigorously criticized and attacked for asserting that its deadly products, which kill more than 400,000 people each year, are potentially safer than e-cigarettes, which do not contain tobacco, involve no combustion, and have been documented to have much lower levels of thousands of different chemicals compared to cigarettes.”
Gillian Golden, Chief Executive of the IBVTA said, “There is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape. Polemic journal editorials by academics with ideological biases against vaping do not assist in informing smokers of the choices they have available to quit or reduce the enormous harm potential of smoking. This particular editorial reads more like an ad for cigarettes instead of serving as a useful addition to scientific debate.”