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Experts Call E-Cigarette Criticisms ‘Alarmist’

Update Date: Sep 05, 2014 10:04 AM EDT

A new report authored by a team of researchers from the United Kingdom called out the recent criticisms surrounding the use of e-cigarettes. The team from the National Addiction Center based at King's College London and the Tobacco Dependence Unit at Queen Mary University concluded in their analysis that the World Health Organization's (WHO) recent studies on e-cigarettes are "misleading."

The WHO's report stated that e-cigarettes can become a gateway for the youth to start smoking real cigarettes. The United Nations health agency also called for the ban of "vaping" in public and work places, stating the e-cigarettes can increase the number of toxins and nicotine in the air. In response to the WHO's concerns, the researchers stated that the agency must factor in both pros and cons when assessing e-cigarettes.

"I think any responsible regulator proposing restricting regulation has to balance reducing risks with reducing potential benefits," lead researcher Professor Peter Hajek said. "In this case the risks are unlikely, some already proven not to exist, while the benefits are potentially enormous. It really could be a revolutionary intervention in public health if smokers switched from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes."

He added, "So killing benefits, which are huge, for risks which are small is like asking people to stop using mobile phones and tablets, or restrict their use and further development, because of a one in 10 million chance that the battery might overheat in your device."

This analysis was published in the journal, Addiction.

Meanwhile, another group of researchers from the University College London estimated that for every one million smokers who switch to e-cigarettes, over 6,000 lives could be saved per year. This study also found that only less than one percent of population that uses e-cigarettes are nonsmokers.

"You have to be a bit crazy to carry on smoking conventional cigarettes when there are e-cigarettes available," professor Robert West stated according to BBC News. "The vapor contains nothing like the concentrations of carcinogens and toxins as cigarette smoke. In fact, concentrations are almost all well below a twentieth of cigarettes."

The WHO has not responded to these criticisms.

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