Peter Hajeck, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Queen Mary University, in London, and one of the UK’s leading experts on tobacco dependence and cessation, recently stated that if electronic cigarettes are allowed to evolve they are very likely to spell the end of tobacco cigarettes.
Professor Hajek has been a long-time supporter of electronic cigarettes as an alternative
to smoking. After conducting extensive research and analyzing scientific studies conducted by fellow scientists, Hajek believes e-cigarettes have the potential to drastically reduce and even eliminate tobacco-related diseases and deaths. In an interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel, the British scientist said: “We’ve never had anything as promising as electronic cigarettes in the fight against tobacco. Once these devices become good enough to truly compete with real cigarettes, smokers will undoubtedly switch in droves. That would be a tremendous gain for public health”. But in order for that to happen, manufacturers must be allowed to improve their products.
Innovation has been key in the progress of our race, and it plays an essential part in the success of e-cigarettes as well. “Electronic cigarette technology is new, but it has already made tremendous progress in the last two years,” Prof. Hajek said. “If we allow them to evolve, they will very likely bring about the end of the cigarette.” That’s why the medical regulation of electronic cigarettes is such a big threat to the industry. “It would stop the development of these device,” Hajek said. “Small companies and inventors would go out of business, because they cannot afford to go through the necessary approval procedures, like the large tobacco companies can. These procedures are expensive, time-consuming and required for every individual product.” To give us an idea of how ‘disastrous’ medical regulation would be to e-cigarettes, Peter Hajek gave the example of conventional nicotine replacement therapy. “Medical regulation is the reason nicotine chewing gum and inhalers cannot offer what electronic cigarettes provide today,” he said. “As soon as they were licensed, they were no longer improved. They have remained virtually unchanged for the last 40 years.” Asked whether he thinks excessive regulations for electronic cigarettes would ultimately benefit tobacco companies, Professor Peter Hajek answered: “Yes. Big Tobacco started buying out electronic cigarette companies in 2012, but they have little interest in developing the technology and thus hastening the end of tobacco cigarettes.
Tobacco corporations would be able to monopolize e-cigarettes and keep them small, if medical regulation comes to their aid.” “That would be completely absurd,” he added. “Something that is a hundred times safer would need to go through additional security checks in order for the truly dangerous substance to continue to be sold freely.” The renowned tobacco dependence and cessation researcher told Der Spiegel that tobacco-related deaths and diseases are the main problem for most public health experts, but confirmed that there are some anti-tobacco activists who see things differently. Asked about the motives of these fervent opponents of electronic cigarettes, Hajek speculated that it might have to do with the changes that would incur if e-cigs would be allowed to reach their full potential. “It’s a little like when digital cameras came along and rendered film cameras obsolete,” he said. He thinks that is what e-cigarettes are doing to analogs. However that would also render the massive business of smoking cessation obsolete as well, and perhaps even change the methods of tobacco control. One would assume that some people are terrified of that scenario… Regarding the issue of toxic substances found in e-liquid and e-cigarette vapor, Professor Hajek said that “the amounts found so far are not clinically significant, with the possible exception of formaldehyde in overheated devices. Everything depends on the dose,” he emphasized. “If a study finds, for example, heavy metals or nitrosamines, they must be considered in relation to cigarette smoke, and they have to specify whether the amounts found are dangerous. So far, the findings have been much lower than the limits that apply as safe to the breathing air in workplaces.” Quitting smoking completely is definitely the best option, Peter Hajek concluded, but for smokers who cannot or don’t want to quit, electronic cigarettes are the second best option to switch to a much less harmful alternative.
*A big part of this article was translated from a German source, so I apologize for any inconsistencies you might encounter.