95% safer than tobacco study questioned and PHE responds

A few weeks ago Public Health England released a document announcing that their studies showed that electronic cigarettes are 95% safer than traditional tobacco cigarettes. Of course it didn’t take long for the study to come under fire. Electronic cigarettes are a hotly debated topic in many countries. Recently the British Medical Journal and the Lancet questioned several aspects of the study.

The British Medical Journal questioned whether the study’s findings were “built on rock or sand”. While the Lancet described the study as having an “extraordinarily flimsy foundation”. Meanwhile others have questioned the sources of the study by Public Health England. (A governmentally funded organization.)

Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at PHE, said that the claims in the British Medical Journal had been responded to before.” He went on to say “E-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking. One in two lifelong smokers die from their addiction. All of the evidence suggests that the health risks posed by e-cigarettes are small by comparison, but we must continue to study the long-term effects.” He added “The PHE has a clear duty to inform the public about what the evidence shows and what it does not show, especially when there was so much public confusion about the relative dangers compared to tobacco.” In closing he stated “Nearly 80,000 people a year die of smoking related illness and smoking costs the NHS two billion euros a year. By spelling out clearly the current evidence – that while e-cigarettes are not risk-free, they carry only a fraction of the harm caused by smoking – we are fulfilling our national remit.”

Being such a sensitive issue it will not be an easy knot to unravel. When the issue is unraveled which end of the rope will we all end up with? Only time will tell..