So, it’s apparently now “unethical” to be sceptical about e-ecigarette hype.

Simon Chapman AO

This week, Marian Salzman, Vice President for Communications at Philip Morris International, finger-jabbed the Australian government as “morally reprehensible” for its strict regulation of e-cigarettes. The irony police were believed to be on their lunch break when the Financial Times journalist reported that gem, with WHO estimating that 7 million people die each year from using the products sold by the industry Ms Salzman works for. A chihuahua which nipped an ankle would feel just as chastened if warned to stop by a rabid pit bull terrier.

Similar ethical tut-tutting has also surfaced in scholarly circles. Three Australian researchers, Wayne Hall, Kylie Morphett and Coral Gartner (hereafter HMG), recently published a paper in a bioethics journal where they slammed Australia’s current policy on e-cigarettes and those supporting it as being “based on strong interpretations of weak evidence”, as paternalistic, and embodying “an incoherent approach to managing health risks.” At the…

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One response to “So, it’s apparently now “unethical” to be sceptical about e-ecigarette hype.

  1. Paul McNamara

    Chapman claims “Anyone wanting to make therapeutic claims for nicotine (such as that it has an acceptable risk profile in the doses in which it will be used, and is useful in helping smokers quit smoking) has to get Therapeutic Goods Administration approval for any products,”

    But as a retailer of e cigarettes I do not want nor care about making such claims. I am still forbidden from selling nicotine. This is an argument to authority – because the TGA deems nicotine this way we must agree.

    He goes on to claim “E-cigarette advocates make three foundational claims for the benefits of vaping… In all this, they unavoidably veer into the domain of making therapeutic claims and so, like manufacturers of any quit smoking product in Australia, require TGA oversight and authorisation.”

    E-cigarette advocates are free citizens and can say whatever they like, it has nothing to do with the TGA. Nor should the claims of advocates have any bearing on manufacturers right to sell products.

    He says: “They want to highlight claims of efficacy and safety, but believe their cause is so important that they should be above regulation.”

    This is a misrepresentation. Nobody in the industry, nor consumers in general, are opposed to regulation. He reads opposition to TGA regulation as opposition to all and any regulations.

    He further claims: “Purveyors of useless and sometimes dangerous quack cures for cancer, HIV, asthma and other serious diseases cannot get endorsement for their claims unless they submit them for assessment and provide high quality evidence in support.”

    The implicit assumption here is that smoking is a disease. hence any claim that e-cigarettes can help people to quit is a medical claim. Not true. Smoking is not a disease. As Chapman himself notes most smokers give up cold turkey. I don’t know of any disease that can be cured by a simple act of will. Something that can be overcome by an act of will does not fit a disease model but is better described as behaviour.


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