E-cigarettes: Why the BBC's Report Didn't Go Nearly Far Enough
By Dick Puddlecote | February 13, 2013 10:13 PM EST
The BBC has this week acknowledged the modern world phenomenon of electronic cigarettes, and not in too shabby a way either.
In an article entitled "electronic cigarettes - miracle or menace?", reporter Graham Satchell observes that the number of 'vapers' in the UK looks set to top a million in 2013 for the first time, and makes the rather obvious consequential claim that sales are "growing fast".
Unfortunately, Satchell left much of the wider story untouched, so permit me to paper over his gaps.
In 2011, UBS anticipated that take-up of e-cigs was set to double in the USA from $250m per annum to $500m. There is now ample evidence that this forecast could turn out to be conservative, with similar breath-taking success being reported for e-cigs all over the western world.
Very recent research has shown that reduction in cigarette consumption amongst those who use e-cigs is double that of those who don't. Time declared that - thanks to newly realised profits from their sales - the wave of advertising for e-cigs presents a real challenge to big tobacco, quoting an e-cig supplier as saying that "our mission is to obsolete cigarettes, do I believe that's possible? Absolutely."
It's all good, isn't it? Well no, apparently not.
You see, anti-smoking organisations still appear to be wedded to the idea that the only good way to quit is the pharma way to quit. It's the Scrooge 'are there no work-houses?' defence. If you resist recommended methods, then you may as well die doing so and reduce the surplus population.
It is this intransigent dogma meeting enlightened realism which is causing a seismic split between those in the tobacco control industry who are sensible, and those who are not.
Former UK Director of Action on Smoking and Health Clive Bates is acerbic in his criticism of tobacco control dinosaurs with regard to harm reduction, the category e-cigs fall into. As far back as 2006, he described their approach as "well paid and comfortably smug"; he has also called ASH Scotland "fools" and referenced the generally embedded stubbornness as actions of the "tobacco control Taliban".
Because, incredibly, the dramatic reduction in harm which electronic cigarettes are undoubtedly promoting is inversely matched by increasingly deranged resistance from fruitcakes within the ranks of tobacco control.
Anti-smokers around the world are - without charging a fiver for their comedy - actually claiming that e-cigs are more harmful than smoking. I say comedy, but it's really not funny even though they are only advisers with a loose grip on reality.
The more scary prospect is that the EU - which does possess comprehensive powers - has tabled a new directive which aims to put e-cigs out of business for good. As it stands, the updated Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) would make accessories to e-cigs so weak that this new smoking cessation device would be rendered ineffectual overnight.
The million UK vapers cited by the BBC - along with millions more throughout the 26 other member states - would mostly be forced back to tobacco usage, and all those health gains would be lost.
And all on the say-so of the author of the TPD, Maltese Health Commissioner John Dalli, who is currently under investigation on claims of soliciting bribes in writing his disastrous directive in the first place. Odd, that.
So, well done the BBC for raising the subject of electronic cigarettes, but something more thorough could have been expected from an organisation which prides itself on being world-renowned.
Maybe next time?
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