Carmen Escrig | 19 February 2015
Although the science has well established that electronic cigarettes are orders of magnitude less harmful than the tobacco cigarettes, these devices have in many countries been subjected to a powerful discrediting campaign. One of many recent examples is the recent spate of sensational news about the study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine about the high levels of formaldehyde when e-cigarettes are over-heated.
In Spain, powerful medical organizations have been the architects of an aggressive misinformation campaign against electronic cigarettes, leading to the public belief that using e-cigarettes is more harmful than tobacco smoking. This has resulted in a severe decline in the Spanish electronic cigarette market.
Doctors who recommend the electronic cigarettes to their patients have been threatened with sanctions, despite millions of vapers experiencing better personal health - not just the physical benefits of smoking cessation, recovery of lung capacity, taste and smell senses, significant improvement of physical and sexual activity, etc, but switching from smoking occurred without the traumatic psychological experience of ‘quitting’ through the adoption of a new lifestyle. Many users describe their vaping experience as "a miracle" after years of smoking related disease and failed attempts to quit through other types of often expensive treatments.
Vapers view with great concern reports such as those issued by WHO and COP6, or the restrictive legislation embodied within the European Tobacco Products Directive. The response to orchestrated misinformation and restrictive policies has been the development of a worldwide consumer-lead movement in defence of vaping. This movement, mainly comprising vapers, who have managed to quit smoking thanks to electronic cigarettes, is also supported by a growing number of physicians, scientists and health professionals. All united in their belief in these devices as a legitimate and effective harm reduction tool.
Because of misinformation, many health professionals are not properly informed about the real advances in the electronic cigarette science. This is the origin and the need for the MOVE (Medical Organizations supporting Vaping and Electronic Cigarettes) initiative. This initiative, driven by electronic cigarette consumers and those who support them, aims to highlight and promote scientific evidence on the electronic cigarettes to health professionals, and to generate an ethical debate about the importance of these devices as a harm reduction with significant potential to save lives.
The MOVE sign-up statement has been created by leading scientists, doctors and other public health professionals and advocates, to encourage their colleagues to show their support and become involved in the debate.
MOVE creates an international framework to address the on-going conflicts and debates about use of electronic cigarettes and their potential within the social and healthcare context. It appeals to healthcare professionals’ conscience and duty to conduct the debate in the light of science and ethics, bearing I mind that smoking still represents the largest public health problem, causing millions of avoidable deaths every year.
We hope that health professionals will show their support by signing up to the MOVE letter https://sciencecig.wordpress.com/move/. The letter is available in ten languages.
We need to get medical and health professionals to encourage the use of electronic cigarettes. Please sign and show your support.
Carmen Escrig has a PhD in Cell Biology and Genetics from the Autonoma University of Madrid. She is a researcher at the Spanish National Institute for Agricultural and Food Research and Technology (INIA). and is Coordinator of the European Free Vaping Initiative in Spain.