Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) statement on e-cigarettes fails to meet the scientific standard expected of a leading national scientific body, according to 11 addiction scientists, reports Medical Express.
Published in June 2022, the NHMRC statement aims to provide “public health advice on the safety and impacts of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) based on review of the current evidence.”
This critique of the NHMRC statement, published in Addiction, argues that the statement inaccurately summarizes the current evidence on e-cigarettes. The authors contend that the NHMRC exaggerates the risks of vaping and fails to compare them with smoking; incorrectly claims that adolescent vaping causes subsequent smoking; and ignores evidence of the benefits of vaping in helping smokers quit.
The NHMRC statement also ignores evidence that vaping is likely already having a positive effect on public health and misapplies the precautionary principle, which requires policymakers to compare the risks of introducing a product with the risks of delaying its introduction.
“Many leading international scientists in the field hold more supportive views than the NHMRC on the potential of e-cigarettes as a strategy to improve public health,” said Colin Mendelsohn, lead author of the Addiction article. “In particular, invoking the precautionary principle to prevent the use of much less harmful smoke-free products is unjustified in the face of the massive public health burden of smoking.”