The experts from the department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London, the National Addiction Centre at King’s College London and the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, have published the rebuttal of the WHO report in the journal Addiction.
They said the WHO report says e-cigarette use in the young is a major problem and could act as a gateway to smoking cigarettes where as in fact less than one per cent of children who have never smoked have tried them.
The WHO also said e-cigarettes contain toxins, the health effects are unknown and they should be banned indoors, but the group said the amounts are tiny and similar to that breathed in when walking down a city street.
Finally they said the WHO assertion that e-cigarettes prevent people from giving up cigarettes is not true and that they are actually as helpful as buying nicotine replacement patches from the chemist.
Prof Peter Hajek, from Queen Mary University said: “These WHO recommendations are actually detrimental to public health.
“E-cigarettes could have a revolutionary effect on public health if smokers switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes.”
He said banning them would be akin to saying everyone should keep an open fire in every room of their own in winter because central heating systems may malfunction.
He added that e-cigarettes should be made cheaper than their alternative and they should be permitted in public places where cigarettes are not.
Prof Robert West from UCL said the WHO recommendations were ‘puritanical’ and ‘ridiculous’ and did not represent the current evidence on safety or use of e-cigarettes.
They can be made cheaper simply by not taxing them as ‘baccy is. And that public use point is vastly important: this does indeed mean that people should be able to use them in pubs.
Now that we’ve had the actual health experts talking about it, who is going to win? Them, or WHO nutters?