Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Fair play to ASH

The WHO has gone completely mental...

The World Health Organization says there should a ban on the use of e-cigarettes indoors and that sales to children should stop.

In a report the health body says there should be no claims that the devices can help people quit smoking - until there is evidence to support this.

WHO experts warn the products might pose a threat to adolescents and the foetuses of pregnant women.

Is it perturbing or reassuring that ASH, who have pumped out so much of this anti-nicotine garbage propaganda over the years, appear to be reining it in a bit..?

Hazel Cheeseman, at the charity Action on Smoking and Health, said there was no evidence of any harm to bystanders and warned regulation needed to be proportionate.

She added:

"Smoking kills 100,000 people in the UK alone. Smokers who switch to using electronic cigarettes in whole or in part are likely to substantially reduce their health risks.

"Although we cannot be sure that electronic cigarettes are completely safe, as the WHO acknowledges, they are considerably less harmful than smoking tobacco and research suggests that they are already helping smokers to quit."

Even the "100,000" figure is a step back from their previous exaggerations.
UPDATE. "Unknown" left a link to NHS Smokefree: "Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, accounting for more than 80,000 deaths each year. One in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease."

Well, call it half a million deaths a year, a fifth of people are smokers, so going by those figures about 50,000 people each year die somewhat earlier than they otherwise would have done as a result of having smoked. It's going a bit far to say that even 50,000 people are "killed" by smoking, let alone 100,000, but it's not as entirely plucked-out-of-the-air unreasonable as other claims which ASH have made.


Unknown said...

80,000 deaths per year according to Smokefree NHS - ASH's figure is higher:


A K Haart said...

"there should be no claims that the devices can help people quit smoking - until there is evidence to support this."

People create their own evidence simply by trying these devices. From comments I see they are moderately effective, but maybe Big Pharma doesn't like them.

View from the Solent said...

I wonder who manufacture and sell the expensive nicotine gums and patches? Both of which can be dangerous for the very young.

Bayard said...

"accounting for more than 80,000 deaths each year",

which implies, like so many of the bansturbators' statistics, that if those people had just given up whatever the bansturbator is trying to ban, they would have become immortal.

Mark Wadsworth said...

U, see update.

AKH, I've heard lots of people say that they smoke a lot less once they started vamping. Fair enough.

VFTS, yes of course.

B, yes, like I said the correct phrase is "shorten the life span of about 50,000 people a year" which is no big deal, is it?

Bayard said...

No it isn't and it becomes even less impressive when you add in how many years their lifespan is shortened by and what they would be doing in those missed years, i.e. having a shit time of it in an old people's home. 'Twas not for nothing that pneumonia was called the "old man's friend".

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, OK, let's do the maths.

500,000 people die in the UK each year.

One-fifth were smokers = 100,000

Half of those die earlier because of smoking = 50,000

Average life span in UK 70 years.

50,000 smokers die (say) 10 years younger = one-seventh of a life "lost"

50,000 x one-seventh = 7,000 life equivalents lost.

That's about three times as many as die in car crashes.

So big deal, really.

John M said...

Do you really believe that? I say ASH are trying to play it both sides, by publicly disowning the idea whilst privately lobbying the WHO for it's implementation.

All part of brand management, making ASH seem reasonable...

Steven_L said...

ASH are folk who hate smokers, tobacco companies and the smell of tobacco smoke. E cigs might reduce demand for tobacco, therefore they might be a good thing.

WHO are folk who represent the health and pharma industry. E cigs might reduce demand for their products and services, therefore they are a bad thing.


Mark Wadsworth said...

JM, to be honest, yes I do. Keen ASH-watcher and arch cynic Dick Puddlecote has also noticed a softening of their stance towards e-cigs.

SL, that seems very plausible to me.

Unknown said...

I agree. Sorry, should have left my name - Roobeedoo.

I got a letter from my MP last year citing the 80k figure, and thought at the time that the figure is BS. Now ASH have upped it. I wonder how long before the DoH start quoting the higher figure.

Bayard said...

"Average life span in UK 70 years."

Are you sure that's still true?

"50,000 smokers die (say) 10 years younger"

This is a key statistic (the number of years younger smokers die) so it makes a nonsense of the conclusion if you simply guess it. What if it were 5, or 2?