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The BMJ questions e-cigarettes endorsement

The BMJ has questioned the decision by Public Health England — (mission statement: “We protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities”) — to endorse the use of e-cigarettes as an aid to quitting smoking. In a report released at the end of August PHE concluded that e-cigs were “95% less harmful” than conventional cigarettes and described them as a potential “game changer” in tobacco control. In The BMJ Professor Martin McKee and Professor Simon Capewell said the available evidence, including a recent Cochrane review, did not show clearly that e-cigs were as effective as established quitting aids. “We might also expect that the prominently featured ‘95% less harmful’ figure was based on a detailed review of evidence, supplemented by modelling”, wrote McKee and Capewell. “In fact, it comes from a single [sponsored] meeting of 12 people.” The sponsors included a CEO with previous funding from British American Tobacco. One of the 12 was a chief scientific advisor with declared funding from an e-cigarette manufacturer, and Philip Morris International. “None of these links or limitations are discussed in the PHE report”, McKee and Capewell wrote.

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