October 2014

A Phoenix from the ASH

Data has demonstrated a threefold increase in the number of vapers over the last two years. The given figure used by officials when debating the issue stood at 1.3 million; the emergence that there now are 2.1 million vapers could not come at a better time as political parties are gearing themselves up for elections to the European Parliament.

The report goes on to highlight that around two-thirds of vapers currently dual-fuel (smoke and vape) which, as they say, supports the notion that smokers see vaping as the most credible way out of their habit and offering the best potential for success.

The BBC was the first to break the story, including anecdotal evidence from a hospital as to the efficacy and safety of the products before shifting to Robert West, Ph.D. West is to release his latest piece of research and is a delight to listen to when he speaks. He destroyed the fallacies and myths surrounding e-cigarettes, arguing strongly in their favor and condemning those who opposed their free use. Even the token anti-e-cigarette campaigner ended up getting twisted in his arguments and finished by totally contradicting himself, effectively agreeing with every one of West’s points.

By midday, after a flurry of activity on Internet forums and social media, ITV News interviewed Deborah Arnott. During it she said, “There is no evidence from our research that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking.”

For the benefit of any anti-e-cigarette campaigner who missed the last paragraph, Arnott, representing the leading body campaigning for strict tobacco controls and previously against the adoption of vaping as a nicotine replacement therapy, said, “There is no evidence from our research that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking.”

Not just do Arnott and the report clearly state that vaping does not act as a gateway to cigarettes, “use amongst never smokers remains negligible,” but it is its reaffirmation that this applies equally to teenagers that will be of great help to us on both sides of the channel. For far too long have politicians hidden behind the mantra that what they are proposing is being done in the best interests of children’s health.


With the Tobacco Products Directive being railroaded through the European Council, the future looked bleak for European vapers. Politicians either misrepresented peer-reviewed science or, worse, laid the groundwork for legislation based purely on baseless feelings and opinions.

Opinions of them acting out of self-interest (and the power of the pharmaceutical lobby) spread from the usual confines of the tin foil hat wearers and began to gain credence with the more levelheaded members of the community.

But, as has been widely reported, support has emerged from a very unexpected corner.

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH UK), England’s anti-smoking charity, has not been one of the greatest supporters of vaping in the past. What ASH UK has done since 2009 is carry out annual research into electronic cigarette use and, although not widely reported, its 2013 study demonstrated a number of issues being raised by anti-e-cig campaigners were nothing more than paper tigers. The largest probable reason for this was the reluctance in media circles to cover the subject in any depth.

With the second major UK channel, ITV, carrying an investigative program into e-cigs during a prime-time slot a couple of months ago, many major UK commentators hoped that this would signify a shift in focus.

ASH UK recently released its 2014 report and was seized upon by both print and television media. The impact of which carried across the Atlantic and was commented upon by the American Council on Science & Health (ACSH).

ASH UK stated in their 2013 report that there was no statistically significant evidence to support the argument that vaping acted as a gateway into smoking. It’s not news to those of us who read it that this message has been repeated in the 2014 findings—but it has been treated so by the media.

The 2014 report shows that there is no evidence that e-cigarettes are marketed at or appealed to teenagers. It goes on to show those teens that vaped tend to also be those who were smokers or used to smoke.

Another major finding was the reappraisal of the number of people within England who have now taken up vaping.

The American Council on Science & Health (ACSH) has been quick to cite this report in their latest press release:

Gil Rosst, Ph.D: “I really don’t have much to add to the results of this survey. It’s quite clear: in the UK, vapers have taken to vaping quite enthusiastically, the goal being to escape from smoking. Even though many both smoke and vape, the health benefits of reducing your cigarette consumption is also to be desired. And the teen data confirm what our own CDC knows but refuses to divulge: teens who do not smoke yet are attracted to e-cigs are few and far between, a fact that should be drummed into the heads of our own politicians who seek to ban them ‘for the sake of the children.’”

UK newspaper The Guardian pointed out that this report mirrors the findings of the University College of London. Other newspapers including the most right-wing Daily Mail, renown for carrying many exploding battery and potential poisoning stories, were equally effusive about the report’s contents.

The legal and corporate affairs director of the e-cigarette brand E-lites said, “Study after study is showing that scaremongering … is baseless nonsense” —a comment aimed squarely at the British Medical Association (BMA).

With most politicians frequently getting confused by the term “e-cigarette” and focus on the disposable cigalikes, the report also reveals that vapers have become more sophisticated. We have moved on to second and third generation devices, something we’ve been shouting about but no one was listening. Disposable cigalikes now constitute just eight percent of e-cigarette use but 90 percent of the justifications for legislation.

Marketed at children? No evidence.
Flavors attracting children? No evidence.
Gateway to smoking? No evidence.
Gateway from smoking? Strong evidence.

Coupled with the peer-reviewed research of more than 19,000 users, released by Farsalinos, stating that e-cigarettes have “significant health benefits” vapers across Europe and beyond could not have wished for a more timely and positive contribution from a most unexpected source. At a time when people were flagging in their desire to carry on the fight and becoming ever more fatalistic, we now see our phoenix rising from the ASH.