BBC Radio Show Spotlights E-Cigs, Expert Argues For Pragmatism

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bbc-logo9“For the great majority of people, electronic cigarettes are going to be a very good thing.”

That quote came from professor John Britton, head of the department for epidemiology (the study of population level causes and effects of disease) and public health at Nottingham City University.  The comment came during an interview on British radio segment Business Daily from BBC.

At first Britton’s comments sound very reminiscent of many electronic cigarette opponents.  He says more research needs to be done on the quality and contents of electronic cigarettes.  Without regulation, electronic cigarette might contain contaminants.

But then, he turns to the pragmatic side.  Cigarettes ultimately kill around half of their users.  Even if electronic cigarettes are swimming with a high level of contaminants, is nearly impossible for them to be as dangerous as conventional cigarettes.  On a danger scale of zero to 100 with cigarettes at 100, Britton puts electronic cigarettes under 5 — with only the slight caveat there’s still more to learn.

Listen to the interview here.

“These products are extremely good for public health,” says Britton.  He goes on to say the there should be regulation to keep an eye out for contaminants that don’t need to exist in e-cigs and to prevent companies from abusing market freedom to target sales towards children.  But those abuses asside, “for the great majority of people, electronic cigarettes are going to be a very good thing,” says Britton.

The interviewer even asks about the risks of using nicotine.  Britton again focuses on the pragmatic.  He compares nicotine to caffeine and argues no one in the country bats an eye at the vast majority of the population being addicted to caffeine because the damage is minimal.  “People could use nicotine without significant damage to their health for the rest of their lives if they wanted to.”

The interviewer then asks if his central belief is that smokers should transition to electronic cigarettes regardless of the dangers e-cigs might still pose.  “Overwhelmingly, that is an absolute no brainer.  If you are a cigarette smoker, moving to electronic cigarettes would be an extremely positive move.”

It’s truly awesome to see the an expert take such a pragmatic and powerful stance on the products.

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