Wednesday, 28 July 2021

The lying, incompetent World Health Organisation

Having done such a cracking job with COVID-19, the WHO has gone back to doing what it loves best - scaremongering about vaping. It has put out one of its infamous Twitter threads with the usual half-truths and outright lies.
As one wag said on Twitter, it's nice that the WHO has finally noticed the existence of aerosols (having denied that SARS-CoV-2 was airborne for so long), but they've taken it too far this time. 
What is the evidence for any of these claims? There is no epidemiological evidence that vaping causes these diseases. Even the report the WHO is promoting with this thread does not present any evidence that vaping causes cancer or heart disease. The only reference to lung disease is a reference to the 'popcorn lung' myth and the EVALI outbreak that was not caused by vaping nicotine. Let's be blunt about it. The WHO is lying.

That is hardly surprising since the report itself is brought to you by billionaire prohibitionist Michael Bloomberg. 
The chances of a report written by the WHO and funded by Bloomberg saying anything useful about e-cigarettes are negligible. Sure enough, it presents tiny and/or hypothetical risks as proven and proven benefits as hypothetical. In the process, it resurrects several objections to vaping from the stone age. Remember when anti-smoking groups said vaping needed to be banned indoors because it's hard to tell the difference between vaping and smoking (it isn't)? That's in there. Remember the nonsense about how vaping 'renormalises' smoking (it doesn't)? That's in there too. 

ENDS are harmful. For example, nicotine can have deleterious impacts on brain development, leading to long-term consequences for children and adolescents in particular (15).

Reference 15 is a speculative article based on a web search for information about oxidative stress which concludes that e-cigarettes "could potentially play a role in adolescent/young adults social maladjustments". Could potentially! 
Nicotine doesn't have a deleterious impact on adult brains (quite the reverse) and it is unlikely to have such an effect on a teenager's brain. In any case, the sale of e-cigarettes is banned to 'children' so it's irrelevant. 

And then we have the old chestnut about the gateway effect...

Children and adolescents that use ENDS are more than twice as likely to use conventional cigarettes.

This features prominently in the report and in the WHO's Twitter thread. If ever there were a case of correlation not equalling causation, it is this. Studies will keep finding this correlation until the cows come home because there is no way of controlling the results for an individual's like or dislike of nicotine, as Carl Phillips has expertly explained

As for the crucial matter of vaping being the most effective way to give up smoking in history, the WHO remains unconvinced, despite this question being the only one that has been answered by multiple randomised controlled trials and unmistakable real world evidence. 

This sums up the report. Any old supposition is good enough for the WHO is it suggests risk, but even the strongest evidence is downplayed or denied when it comes to benefits. 

Incidentally, this is also apparent in the chapter about Covid and smoking. After claiming that e-cigarettes 'are thought to play an unfavourable role in COVID-19 severity' and asserting that 'evidence on the biological mechanisms linking to COVID-19 and tobacco use is growing', the WHO addresses the small matter of dozens of epidemiological studies showing smokers are less likely to get COVID-19. Naturally, the WHO is unconvinced and provides a page of caveats and whataboutery to downplay these findings before demanding a 'large prospective cohort study' to prove it. 

Tellingly, they do not demand the same strength of evidence when claiming that vaping causes cancer or nicotine damages the brain - or indeed that 'smoking worsens Covid outcomes'. That's because this is not a scientific report. It is prohibitionist propaganda.

Earlier this week, Philip Morris called for cigarettes to be banned by 2030. Now the World Health Organisation has gone out to bat for the cigarette trade.

Funny old world. Funny old World Health Organisation.

Defund it.

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