Commenting on the report, Director of the World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) Michael Landl, said that such misinformation will have negative consequences. “This report is a tragedy for public health and will have dire consequences for smokers and vapers alike. SCHEER ignores a large amount of scientific evidence on vaping, all of which was provided by experts and consumers to SCHEER during their consultation earlier this year. They chose to ignore it. This is a slap in the face of vapers and of common sense.”
Patterns of inaccurate reporting in the SCHEER report
A paper released earlier this year by renowned tobacco harm reduction expert Dr. Riccardo Polosa and his team at the Center of Excellence for the Acceleration of Harm Reduction (CoEHAR), had presented evidence that the Committee’s “conclusions are not adequately backed up by scientific evidence and did not discuss the potential health benefits of using alternative combustion-free nicotine-containing products as substitute for tobacco cigarettes.”
Polosa and his team found highlighted that the report failed to consider studies indicating the individual and population health benefits of using e-cigarettes (ENDS) as safer alternatives and also ignored alternative hypotheses to the gateway theory. “The Opinion omitted reporting on the individual and population health benefits of the substitution of ENDS for cigarette smoking. Alternative hypotheses to the gateway theory were not evaluated.”
The CoEHAR team sadly identified other patterns of inaccurate reporting. “Its assessment of cardiovascular risk is contradicted by numerous reviews. It cites ever-use data that do not represent current patterns of use. It did not report non-nicotine use. It presented erroneous statements on trends in ENDS prevalence. It over-emphasized the role of flavours in youth ENDS initiation. It did not discuss cessation in sufficient length.”
Similarly added Landl, the report fails to consider the renowned Public Health England data, which show that e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than smoking and recently found that vaping is the most commonly used means to quit smoking.
“Countries like the UK and France are actively encouraging smokers to use vaping and switch to this less harmful alternative. If the EU really wants to tackle smoking-related illnesses, it needs to look very carefully at all of the evidence. Unfortunately, the SCHEER report is biased against vaping, and its recommendations, if transposed into legislation, will damage public health,” he said.
Recommendations for an accurate report
Polosa and his team, went on to list a number of factors that the SCHEER would to need to consider in order to deliver an accurate report. “For the delivery of a robust and comprehensive final report, the members of the Working Group of the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks will need to consider (1) the potential health benefits of ENDS substitution for cigarette smoking, (2) alternative hypotheses and contradictory studies on the gateway effect, (3) its assessment of cardiovascular risk, (4) the measurements of frequency of use, (5) non-nicotine use, (6) the role of flavours, and (7) a fulsome discussion of cessation.”