Response to an article mispresenting my research findings on inhalation hazards from e-cigarettes

 

By Dr Farsalinos

I was informed today about an e-cigarettes article in South China Morning Post referring to one of my studies with the conclusion that e-cigarettes are equally harmful to tobacco cigarettes. In response to this, I decided to send a letter to the journalist signing this article.

 

Start of letter

 

Dear Mrs. Gonzales,

I was informed about your article in South China Morning Post about e-cigarettes, in which you mentioned the findings of one of my studies.

Your article is available here:

http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/health/article/1564297/hit-myths-beware-downside-e-cigarettes

In the article, you mention: "A recent study by Greek cardiovascular specialist Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos found that e-cigarettes can cause lung damage and are not safer than regular tobacco cigarettes." 

Allow me to strongly object to the conclusion drawn in this sentence, which is not associated with the findings of my study. Most probably you refer to the recent analysis of e-cigarette liquids, in which we detected diacetyl and acetyl propionyl. The study was presented as a poster in GFN 2014 Conference (http://gfn.net.co/downloads/2014/posters/122%20Farsalinos%20%20-%20DA_AP.pdf). However, the poster (as well as the manuscript which has already been submitted for publication in a medical journal) specifically mentions that: "They [diacetyl and acetyl propionyl] were 2-times higher than the strict NIOSH-defined safety limits (Figure 4) but 100 and 10 times lower compared to smoking respectively".

Therefore, your conclusion that e-cigarettes "are not safer than regular tobacco cigarettes" is not supported by my study or any other published study by any researcher. Even if the levels found were similar to tobacco cigarettes, we should not forget that there are many other toxic tobacco-related chemicals which are completely absent or present in minimal quantities in e-cigarettes (e.g. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nitrosamines, phenols etc.). Thus, it is highly unlikely that even the worst-quality e-cigarette can ever be as harmful as tobacco cigarettes. 

Smoking is a very sensitive matter because of the significant adverse health implications. It is an ethical obligation of scientists and the media to properly and responsibly inform smokers about e-cigarettes being a less harmful alternative to tobacco cigarettes. To the best of my knowledge, no scientist has ever supported that e-cigarettes are absolutely safe. However, current evidence overwhelmingly supports that they are by far less harmful that tobacco cigarettes. This is the most crucial issue and the most important information that every smoker needs and deserves to know. My recent study confirms this, and is important for an additional reason: it detected an avoidable risk, which can be easily removed and thus make e-cigarettes even safer. 

I urge you to reconsider the conclusion mentioned in your article and I would be glad to answer to any question you may have concerning this and other studies.   

 

 

End of letter

  

 

 

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