Experts say vaping 'could save hundreds of millions of lives'
Now UPDATED with more details from the scientists remarkable open letter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/29/2014, 4:42pm PT  

Good.

LONDON (Reuters) - A group of 53 leading scientists has warned the World Health Organisation not to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products, arguing that doing so would jeopardize a major opportunity to slash disease and deaths caused by smoking.

The UN agency, which is currently assessing its position on the matter, has previously indicated it would favor applying similar restrictions to all nicotine-containing products.

In an open letter to WHO Director General Margaret Chan, the scientists from Europe, North America, Asia and Australia argued that low-risk products like e-cigarettes were "part of the solution" in the fight against smoking, not part of the problem.

"These products could be among the most significant health innovations of the 21st century - perhaps saving hundreds of millions of lives. The urge to control and suppress them as tobacco products should be resisted," the experts wrote.

Hope someone tells the Los Angeles City Council and Chris Christie and the New York Times and all the other yutzes out there working in knee-jerk ignorance to make it harder for people to quit smoking, rather than much easier --- and endangering the lives of millions in the bargain.

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UPDATE 5/30/2014: Here's the complete open letter to WHO [PDF]. In fact, the details are rather remarkable, as they speak to almost every single piece of dangerous anti-vaping propaganda I've heard since I began researching this issue.

Here's a few more key snippets from the group of scientists, speaking to those very issues, pretty much smacking down every bit of that irresponsible, unscientific propaganda that has been used by governmental bodies to date to make quitting smoking with the use of vaping technology much more difficult...

[Emphasis in the original document]...

We have known for years that people 'smoke for the nicotine, but die from the smoke': the vast majority of the death and disease attributable to tobacco arises from inhalation of tar particles and toxic gases drawn into the lungs. There are now rapid developments in nicotine-based products that can effectively substitute for cigarettes but with very low risks.
...
Tobacco harm reduction policies should be evidence-based and proportionate to risk, and give due weight to the significant reductions in risk that are achieved when a smoker switches to a low risk nicotine product.
...
On a precautionary basis, regulators should avoid support for measures that could have the perverse effect of prolonging cigarette consumption. Policies that are excessively restrictive or burdensome on lower risk products can have the unintended consequence of protecting cigarettes from competition from less hazardous alternatives, and cause harm as a result.

Targets and indicators for reduction of tobacco consumption should be aligned with the ultimate goal of reducing disease and premature death, not nicotine use per se, and therefore focus primarily on reducing smoking. ... it would be counterproductive and potentially harmful to include reduction of low-risk nicotine products, such as e­-cigarettes, within these targets: instead these products should have an important role in meeting the targets.

Tobacco harm reduction is strongly consistent with good public health policy and practice and it would be unethical and harmful to inhibit the option to switch to tobacco harm reduction products. ... Tobacco harm reduction allows people to control the risk associated with taking nicotine and to reduce it down to very low or negligible levels.

In addition to the above, some of these points seem to speak directly to folks like the L.A. City Council and others like them who are dangerously banning the use of vaping products as if they were the same thing as cigarettes:

It is inappropriate to apply legislation designed to protect bystanders or workers from tobacco smoke to vapour products. There is no evidence at present of material risk to health from vapour emitted from e-cigarettes.

And this one, for folks like NJ Gov. Chris Christie, whose administration has irresponsibly called for extreme excise taxes on e-cigs:

The tax regime for nicotine products should reflect risk and be organised to create incentives for users to switch from smoking to low risk harm reduction products. Excessive taxation of low risk products relative to combustible tobacco deters smokers from switching and will cause more smoking and harm than there otherwise would be.

Finally, for disreputable "experts" like Professor Stanton Glantz of University of California, San Francisco, whose extraordinarily bad "scientific" reports and personal testimony seem to pop up in virtually every anti-vaping legislative body or lousy mainstream media article on e-cigs:

WHO and national governments should take a dispassionate view of scientific arguments, and not accept or promote flawed media or activist misinterpretations of data. For example, much has been made of 'gateway effects', in which use of low-risk products would, it is claimed, lead to use of high-risk smoked products. We are unaware of any credible evidence that supports this conjecture.

And yet, when I've asked legislators why they are dangerously banning e-cigs, they invariably point to the junk-science reports and testimony by Glantz and friends, who cite "scientific" reports that simply do not support the "gateway effect" argument --- or any other --- they are (successfully) hoping to fool the public with.