Tuesday 6 June 2023

W.H.O. boss lies about vaping

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, once of the Tigray People's Liberation Front and now Director-General of the World Health Organisation, held a press conference on Friday in which he shamelessly lied about e-cigarettes.

“When the tobacco industry introduced electronic cigarettes and vaping, one narrative they tried to really sell is, is that this is part of harm reduction. It is not true. It actually is a trap.”

“Kids are being recruited at early age, 10, 11, 12 to do vaping and e-cigarettes because they think that it is cool because it comes in different colours, different flavours and so on. Then they get hooked for life. And most actually move into regular cigarette smoking.”

There are quite a few lies to unpack here. Firstly, the tobacco industry didn't 'introduce' e-cigarettes. It only moved into the market in 2013, 12 years after they had been invented. By the time the first vaping company was snapped up by a tobacco company, I'd already been using e-cigarettes for several years and had stopped smoking.

Nor is vaping 'a trap'. This is a ludicrous bit of scaremongering. The latest Cochrane Review concluded that there is 'high certainty evidence that nicotine e-cigarettes are more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) in helping people quit smoking'. This is in contrast to the 'very low certainty' evidence that the WHO has been citing recently to scare people off artificial sweeteners.

Finally, it is a flagrant lie that most children who vape 'move into regular smoking'. On the contrary, e-cigarettes have a prophylactic effect which is why smoking is extremely rare in schools despite - or rather because - vaping has become more popular. The evidence from the UK, USA and many other countries is clear to see. (Australia may be the exception but there is no accounting for the stupidity of the government.)

Wouldn't it be nice to have a World Health Organisation that doesn't lie to our faces? Is that too much to ask?

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