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The E-Cigarette Summit in the News

Electronic cigarettes 'could save millions of lives'

At last some positive headlines on vaping, thanks to the E-Cig Summit produced by the E-Cigarette Forum.

We are accustomed to hand-wringing headlines from cig-ban zealots about childhood addiction and other imagined horrors produced by sloppy journalism teamed with sloppy science.

But press reaction to the London summit last week was responsible and even-handed, headlining more often than not the lowered death rate almost certain to result from a sensible regulatory approach.

The BBC coverage was by Science Reporter Melissa Hogenboom, and was entitled: "Electronic cigarettes 'could save millions of lives'." It is a balanced overview of the summit, highlighting Robert West's prediction that "it can be achieved." West is a Professor of Health Psychology and Director of Tobacco Studies at University College in London.

Of course the topic of e-cigarettes straddles the boundary between science and business, and the conference was also covered in the business press. An article in Business Insider, by reporter Jennifer Welsh, headlines West himself and his hopeful prediction about saved lives, in the article: "Professor: E-Cigarettes Could Save Millions of Lives". Welsh notes that West conceded the absence of long-term studies for obvious reasons – E-cigarettes haven't been around long enough, and adds his common sense observation that the dangers nonetheless are far less than those of conventional cigarettes, obviously.

Yahoo News trumpets "E-cigarettes could save millions of lives, conference told", an article reported by Robin Millard, who noted that "Many delegates merrily "vaped" away throughout the indoor conference sessions, including one man puffing on a sizable e-pipe and another inhaling an e-cigar that lit up blue."

Metro News misquoted Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos to the effect that e-cigarettes have an 80% success rate in helping smokers quit. Dr. Farsolinos cleared the matter up on his Google+ site, as follows: "I told him that the best available approved smoking cessation methods have a success rate of less than 20%. So, we have to do something for the more than 80% of smokers who cannot quit, rather than letting them continue smoking. For this population, the e-cigarette is a very good choice and should be recommended. Obviously, this does not mean that all of them will quit smoking, and I never implied that! The second time I mentioned this figure was when I told him about the internet surveys performed by myself and other colleagues. I specifically told him that only dedicated users participate in these surveys. However, their success stories should be used as a guide in developing a strategy of educating smokers about e-cigarette use and how to use them. Additionally and in order to make sure that he did not misinterpret this, I told him that it is unrealistic and impossible to expect an 80% success rate in the general population and surveys do NOT measure the success rate of e-cigarettes in smoking cessation. They just inform us about the experience and the patterns of use in people who have succeeded to quit smoking.

The summit has resulted in a clear public relations victory for those who wish to see e-cigarettes regulated in a moderate sensible fashion, a fashion that will keep the option available to would be quitters, without giving the store away to Big Tobacco strong-arm tactics.