Public Health Wales – a triumph of ideology over evidence

By Tom Pruen

We need a better standard of what is considered to be, and published as, evidence

Public Health Wales have recently released a report which, in their own words, has the following purpose:

“Public Health Wales has reviewed the available evidence to help health professionals and the public be more informed about the products.”

Sadly it appears that what they actually meant was:

“Public Health Wales has cherry picked from the available evidence to mislead health professionals and the public”

In their search for evidence, they have apparently found no mention that:

E-cigs DO NOT deliver tar or carbon monoxide

Toxic chemicals found in cigarette smoke are either entirely absent from vapour, or at massive reduced levels

Vapour does not hang in the air as long as tobacco smoke, so the potential to expose others is massively reduced

While e-cigs are not regulated as medicines (due in large part to the fact that they ARE NOT MEDICINES),  the sale of them is covered by a huge array of existing legislation

The large user base strongly suggests that many people find e-cigs an incredibly useful reduced harm alternative to smoking

Most of the adult users of these products consider flavours to be a vital component that helps them avoid relapse to smoked tobacco

They did find find that:

Flavours MAY appeal to children (Indeed they may. Equally, they may not. It’s hard to think of any real reason why an e-cigarette would appeal to a non-smoker.)

Nicotine delivery varies between different products (This is hardly surprising, given that they are – shock horror – different products.)

E-cigs MAY hamper the ongoing efforts to denormalise smoking and smokers (Of course, it could equally well be argued that the use of a reduced-harm alternative to smoking only emphasises the dangers of smoking, and allows smokers to be renormalised, without renormalising smoking.)

There is little evidence that e-cigs help in quitting (Of course, since e-cigs provide an alternative way for smokers to enjoy nicotine without killing themselves with smoke, it isn’t really a quit method at all.)

“using behavioural support services like Stop Smoking Wales, which uses a range of tested nicotine replacement products, you are four times more likely to quit smoking than by willpower alone” (The failure rate of NRT is around 94%, although the use of support services does, in the short term at least, reduce this. A pitiful success rate like this hardly something to brag about, however.)

They did, however, make one statement in their report (sadly, it didn’t make it into the press release) that public health, most users,  and the industry can agree with – e-cigs should not be available to those under 18.

I would love to know which pieces of purported ‘evidence’ Public Health Wales ‘examined’ to generate their conclusions, as their references are all secondary sources . I’m sure I could supply them with a more comprehensive list.

So to conclude:

This is not an evaluation of the evidence at all, it is merely the ideological position of Public Health Wales, presented as evidence-based fact.




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One Response to Public Health Wales – a triumph of ideology over evidence

  1. Pingback: A Call to the Welsh Government: Work With Us, Not Against Us, On Ecigs

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