E-cigarettes 'can cause more harm than smoking,' experts say
They are billed as a healthier alternative to smoking, yet experts now warn that electronic cigarettes may be more damaging than the habit they replace.
This can cause ‘acute respiratory system irritation’, claims Dr Elisabeth Pott, director of the Federal Centre of Health Education in Cologne, Germany, who has studied e-cigarettes.
That's an itchy throat to you or me. Much worse than all the harm that smoking can do, I'm sure you'll agree.
Clive Bates has quite rightly sent a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission...
Complaint regarding Mail on Sunday article 27 January 2013: E-cigarettes ‘can cause more harm than smoking’, experts say
1. The headline and premise of the story is completely inaccurate – there are no circumstances in which e-cigarettes cause more harm than smoking. In reality they are are almost harmless – probably at least 99% less risky than cigarette smoking. No expert would say this and none has.
2. There is no fact or argument in the article to support the headline or its main premise. This is simply asserted by the by the journalist in the first sentence of the article, and in the headline. The fact that e-cigarettes ‘can cause acute respiratory system irritation’ in some users is barely relevant. An ‘irritation’ is a minor issue compared to cancer, heart disease and emphysema caused by smoking. It is these chronic conditions that do the most harm. Most e-cigarette users don’t experience this irritation and no figures are given on how many people are afflicted by this irritation or how severely. So even the one health impact that is mentioned is asserted without any quantification or sense of its seriousness. It certainly is not described in a way that justifies the headline or premise of the article. Inflammation and irritation of the respiratory tract is common in smokers (smokers’ cough) – as well as cancer, heart disease etc.
3. No experts are quoted in the article saying e-cigarettes ‘can cause more harm than smoking’ – yet this quote is used in the headline and is unattributed. No experts have said this because it is not true. The article doesn’t even support its own (false) premise.
4. There is implicit misleading scaremongering about ‘the chemical propylene glycol’ (why mention it otherwise?). In reality this is a largely benign substance used as a food additive and in medicines.
A grossly inaccurate story like this could have real impacts on human welfare if it discourages people from switching from smoking cigarettes to e-cigarettes. It is also unfairly damaging to numerous small businesses trying to grow the market for a much safer alternative to smoking. This is particularly irresponsible, ill-informed, and lazy journalism.
Well said. It's good to see that a director of ASH is so concerned about people's health that he took time out on a Sunday to respond to dangerously misleading journalism. Shame it's one who resigned ten years ago.