UKCTAS: ‘Media scare stories’ about e-cigs doing extreme harm to public health
The Deputy Director of the UK Center for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) has been watching the series of fake news stories coming out of America and elsewhere about the alleged dangers of vaping, and she is getting rather irritated. Ms. Linda Bauld not only works for the UK public health agency, but she is also the ranking Professor of Health Policy at the University of Stirling as well as CRUK/BUPA Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention at Cancer Research UK.
In short, Ms. Bauld knows her stuff. And she is apparently no longer willing to sit on the side lines while the public-at-large falls victim to fabricated “evidence” that suggests vaping is just as harmful as smoking.
Linda Bauld of the UKCTAS fights back
In a recent article published in The Guardian entitled, “I’ll say it again: E-cigarettes are still far safer than smoking,” Professor Bauld reiterated the official medical opinion published by the Royal College of Physicians over a year ago stating that e-cigs are 95 percent safer and healthier than smoking. She also admits that the strong surge in falsified, anti-vaping propaganda seems to be working because “more people than ever believe (e-cigs) to be just as harmful” as combustible tobacco products.
“Since I last wrote about e-cigarettes in this column one year ago, headlines about the dangers of these devices have continued to appear and show no sign of abating. The result is clear. More people believe today, compared with a year ago, that e-cigarettes are as harmful as smoking. In fact these incorrect perceptions have risen year on year, from fewer than one in ten adults in Great Britain in 2013 to one in four this past summer. Surveys of smokers show similar patterns, with an increasing proportion believing that e-cigarettes are more or equally harmful than tobacco.”
And Ms. Bauld is not alone in her beliefs that the general public is being tricked by anti-vaping activists. When U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued a blistering opinion of e-cigs and vaping in the days before Christmas, the UK’s Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, Professor Kevin Fenton, vetoed Murthy’s statement by calling vaping a “public health opportunity.”
And when the CDC started their marketing campaign to convince the American People that vaping is a gateway to teen smoking, the UK Centre for Substance Use Research (CSUR) shot back with their own published research claiming the exact opposite. The study’s author, Dr. Neil McKeganey, even made a rather bold statement blasting the CDC.
“It’s more concerning, particularly for the young people who currently smoke, that inaccurate perceptions of e-cigarettes could result in the persistent use of combustible tobacco irrespective of the fact that Public Health England has concluded vaping is 95 percent less harmful than conventional cigarettes.”
And in Ms. Bauld’s recent article in the Guardian, she takes the accusations one step farther, claiming that certain “organizations” are intentionally creating and releasing “media scare stories” without any comparable data to back up their claims.
“The regular stream of media scare stories driving harm perceptions often originates in other countries where there is no such view about relative risks. Some media headlines are driven by poor science but others originate from reports by credible organisations who focus on the absolute risk of any e-cigarette use without comparing it to smoking (which is uniquely deadly and kills one in two regular users). 2016 saw at least two major reports of this kind.”
Until very recently, public health officials in the UK would very often turn a blind eye when a bogus report was published from an American institution making outrageous claims. For example, when the rumor was spreading on social media about 18-months ago that vaping causes popcorn lung, the Brits largely stayed out of the fray
But lately, UK public health experts like Professor Linda Bauld from the UKCTAS are fighting back. After all, millions of Europeans are reading...and believing... these ridiculous stories online, as well.