The third Global Forum on Nicotine (GFN 2016) took place in Warsaw in the middle of June.
Professor Gerry Stimson, Director of Knowledge-Action-Change, a public health social scientist from the UK, and the GFN 2016 co-ordinator, said as he opened the forum: “The trouble is we know that electronic cigarettes are less harmful to human health than regular ones and we can even assume that the harm reduction is significant, over 50-60% and even more. We see patients feel better once they switch from regular cigarettes to electronic ones. We are confident that it is vital for smokers to have access to safer products, which eventually leads to a decline in mortality, but because of regulatory restrictions connected with nicotine as such, we cannot speak about this to a mass audience, we cannot promote or advertise cigarette substitutes to smokers.”
Scientists and doctors openly say that an inveterate smoker can be persuaded into quitting cigarettes with the help of alternatives only by offering nicotine addicts certain “bonuses” that do not come with regular smoking. For example, there could be fewer regulatory restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes in public places or ENDS could be made more accessible by not prohibiting the distribution of nicotine alternatives through regular shops. A separate argument in favour of such an approach is that the use of alternative methods for nicotine consumption is less hazardous to the public too. Vapour exhaled by vapers dissipates within seconds causing no harm to those around, unlike the combustion products of regular cigarettes, according to the extensive report presented in Warsaw by Dainius Martuzevicius, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Chemical Technology at the Kaunas University of Technology.
However, all these arguments are ignored by politicians and the conservative anti-tobacco lobby who persistently fail to see the obvious: a person cannot be made to do something they do not want to do (for example quit smoking) without offering them alternatives. “We are told: e-cigarettes must not be sold even if they are safer because we do not know how much safer they are. Better let people continue to smoke regular cigarettes which we know exactly are not safe and lead to death and not try alternatives,” resents the well-known Greek cardiologist Konstantinos Farsalinos. The world famous anti-tobacco activist Clive Bates also warns against attempts to overregulate the ENDS market: “A strict approach to electronic cigarettes and snus may eventually result only in higher competitiveness of the more harmful regular cigarettes.”
Aaron Biebert, a journalist and documentary film maker, director of the A Billion Lives film which convincingly reveals the conspiracy of pharmaceutical companies and politicians they sponsor against e-cigarettes, is even more categorical in his statements: “This is very cynical when regulatory agencies ban or restrict the distribution and sale of e-cigarettes on the pretext that they have not been studied enough yet. Creating restrictions on such alternatives when regular cigarettes with proven harm can be bought almost on every corner is the same as saying: ‘Better let people die instead.’”