Regulator Watch: Public Panic - Researchers Push to Skew Vaping Regulation

“Organizations and institutions live and die by the research grants and the more fear they incite the more funding comes their way.” It is the way that was introduced a subject entitled “Public Panic” on a Canadian channel on December 12, 2015.

E-cigarette is a very hot topic for researchers, it is a very controversial issue and it is also delivered by the media to the society. But the Media do not have to be blamed by the panic created by the conclusions of some papers. It is of the responsibility of researchers to provide sufficient information on their research to avoid misinterpretation of their results.

And it was not the case of the Harvard research Team who recently provided an alarming headline on their findings on Diacetyl and other toxic molecules present in e-liquids. Basically, they are guilty to have:

  • associated vaping to a lung disease that has never been observed with any e-cigarette user;
  • omitted to mention the presence of these compounds in tobacco cigarette smoke;
  • violated a classical toxicological principle that the amount determines the toxicity and the risk;

An for the latter, the levels of these compounds “are absolutely minimal and it is not expected to raise any concern about human health effects”, as previously explained by Dr Farsalinos on his blog.

“Researchers have to provide unbiased balanced informations to the smokers and let the smokers decide for themselves. They are discouraging smokers for using e-cigarettes, and this is an ethical crime.” -K. Farsalinos
According to Konstantinos Farsalinos who had been contacted by the journalist when this study was published, the risks have been exagerated and the conclusions skewed.

The cardiologist and e-cigarette expert explains that poor research can be published, even by very well respected journals and it is quite uncommon to see this in other fields of medicine and of research, in general, but it is not the only case. The journalist enumerates other studies in the same field where the context was not specified, giving the wrong impression that e-cigarettes are exposing users to a new chemical hazard. And it is for that context of harm reduction and massive benefit received by smokers who switch to vaping that K. Farsalinos is fighting.

He explains that lots of scientists are ideologically opposed to anything that contains the terms “cigarette” or “nicotine” and they use their notoriety to convey this message. A message that is received by the Media, the society and that creates an animated debate on social networks, for example. But a message that is also interpreted as a scientific information by stakeholders who use the same publication in the rulemaking process. When asked how can so many regulators make moves to ban vaping, the researcher explains: “They are thinking or implementing some restrictions that are not only unnecessary but unsubstantiated, based on theoretical fears.”

“As we learn more and more about e-cigarette, we are more and more convinced that much safer than smoking” -K. Farsalinos
Farsalinos recalls that e-cigarette is a consumer-driven initiative, far away from any lobby, and it can safely be regarded as a mean to fight against smoking. “It becomes a challenge to keep on using e-cigarettes to quit smoking in this context”, regrets the researcher who witnessed some e-cigarette regular users buying tobacco by fear of what they read on vaping. The Greek health professional, as many other professionals, judges the “95% less harmful” PHE’s estimate is quite conservative and it is exactly what the consumers need to know.



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PhD in science and journalist for the Vaping Post. Specialised in scientific topics.
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Diacetyl war: Exagerated risk and skewed conclu...
7 years ago

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