The chairman of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) Welsh council has called for proof that vapor products are safe and has expressed concern at the untold long-term health effects of their use, likening the potential risk to a drug that was documented to cause birth deformities in infants.
The BMA chairman, Dr. Phil Banfield, said he wants e-cigarettes reviewed and has drawn comparison to the Thalidomide drug crisis in the potential risks that vapor products could have on their users, according to BBC News.
Thalidomide was a drug created by a German pharmaceutical company to combat morning sickness in pregnant women, and its effects wreaked havoc worldwide in the years following its introduction in 1957, with an estimated 20,000 babies worldwide born with deformities.
Banfield claims that the crisis was contained and largely prevented in the US because of a thorough clinical review, and that the same caution should be exercised towards vapor products, which are used by an estimated 2.8 million people in the UK, BBC News reports.
“I’m a bit loath to make a direct comparison, but the most obvious one, because I’m in my fifties, is with Thalidomide,” Banfield told BBC Radio. “Using e-cigarettes to help you quit is very different to swapping them to use them as a social habit in the long-term.”
Tom Pruen, of the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association disagrees, and dismissed Banfield’s comments, calling them “alarmist nonsense” and stating that the BMA chairman’s argument is “entirely fallacious.”
“Thalidomide was a drug that was intended for use in pregnancy that had never been investigated for its effects on developing fetuses, which is a little different from saying ‘here is a product that while not risk free, is definitely safer than continuing to smoke’,” Pruen said.
While a UK organization like the Royal College of Physicians can endorse the benefits of e-cigarettes with evidence suggesting that vaping is 95% less harmful than combustible tobacco, Pruen believes that Banfield chose Thalidomide in his comparison in order to “elicit an emotional response that’s quite simply not justified by the evidence.”
To read more, click here for the BBC News article.