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WHO officials accused of unfair propaganda

In the aftermath of this week's pronouncement on ENDS (Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems) by the World Health Organization (WHO), prominent scientist Konstantinos Farsalinos has charged functionaries of the organization with conducting an inappropriate propaganda campaign against vaping on Twitter.

Dr. Farsalinos says that the agency apparently ordered staff members to circulate the tweets just after the document was released. "The messages were a collection of fear-mongering, scientifically unbased, confusing and misleading claims about the risks posed by e-cigarettes," he points out.

Most significantly, he notes, all of the dangers mentioned are risks that occur at much higher levels with cigarette smoking – "orders of magnitude" higher – so that users would still be advised to switch to vaping for the lowered risks.

("Order of magnitude" refers to size differences in powers of 10 [multiplied by 10], so a different size by an "order of magnitude" would refer to something at least 10 times larger or smaller than the reference item. Many of the risk differentials between smoking and vaping diverge by many orders of magnitude, closer to 450 times different than merely 10 times different.)

The content of the tweets in question will come as no surprise to members of the vaping community, nor will the dishonest concealment of the amount of difference. They are the same things that have been said time and time again, with the same silence about the fact that they are trace levels.

Farsalinos notes that all of the claims are unproven, and could have only the aim of preventing smokers from switching to e-cigarettes. "[P]eople engaged in such propaganda should be held accountable for every vaper who abandons e-cigarette use and goes back to smoking, and for every smoker who is discouraged from using e-cigarettes based on misinformation and intimidating tactics," says the scientist.

Farsalinos feels very strongly that the scientific community has an ethical responsibility to counteract such inappropriate practices. He expresses confidence that many officials at the World Health Organization are above such propaganda, and hold much more moderate views. In fact, he is in an excellent position to make such a judgment, as he has been called upon to travel to Geneva as a consultant for the organization a number of times. It is certain that he has acquaintances in the organization who would be equally horrified by this unethical practice.

"However, they seem to represent the minority," he conjectures, "while the agenda is driven by other forces."

That agenda seems to be "an ideological and dogmatic stance against anything that contains nicotine," Farsolinos concludes.