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What's gotten into the WHO ?

Publié le : 2020-01-30 10:17:18
Catégories : News / Events

Even as we were writing this article, the WHO has made some changes to its Q&A as of January 29, 2020.

No communication on the subject, silence around this update... Some statements have been moderated, some claims have simply disappeared, such as the confusion between ethylene and propylene glycol. Has the institution realised that it’s discrediting itself by putting forward such aberrations ?

A few corrections, certainly due to the uprising of some doctors and vape specialists. Unfortunately, we’re still very far from realistic information.

The article below is based on their initial claims.


On January the 20th, 2020, the WHO published a new page on its website. A Q&A (Question and Answer) on e-cigarettes.

Reading it, we were somewhat stunned. Indeed, the "information" provided on this page goes against everything that has been scientifically demonstrated to this date. This raises questions about the integrity of this institution !

Want to know more ? This way ! Enjoy !

Our position on their statements

Have the people who wrote this document gone mad ? One might wonder. Completely anonymous, no quotes to back up what’s been said... Isn't that disturbing ?

A brief overview of their allegations and a presentation of the elements confirming that these statements are totally false :

« There is no doubt that they are harmful to health and unsafe, but it is too early to give a clear answer as to their long-term impact ».
The Public Health England report, based on hundreds of independent studies, shows that electronic cigarettes are 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes. We’ve never claimed that they are harmless. But with more than 10 years of hindsight, an incalculable number of studies (more than those for drugs on the market), as well as solid results demonstrating its greatly reduced risks compared to cigarettes, one wonders where this claim comes from. Especially when it comes to risk reduction in terms of smoking.

OMS vape

« Youth using electronic cigarettes are more likely to consume traditional cigarettes, cigars and hookahs ».
Some figures might show an increase in the number of young vapers in the United States. But the real answers for this problem are the following. The first comes from the lack of regulation by the American authorities regarding the protection of minors. The second is that, in view of the increased number of young people vaping, the rate of smokers among minors is drastically dropping. In 2018, the CDC also indicated in its report that the United States had never experienced such a low rate of smokers.

A recent study on this subject, involving 39,000 French 17-year-olds, shows that among the 23,000 who’ve smoked at least one cigarette in their lives, those who’ve tried e-cigarettes were 38% less likely to become daily smokers than those who’ve never tried it.

Finally, it goes without saying that this issue deserves further study. One thing’s for sure : the protection of minors is a priority at the moment and many professionals, including Sweetch, have signed a code of conduct (French document) in 2018 to this end.

« Electronic cigarette increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and lung disease ».
The English study VESUVIUS (2019) has in fact just proved the opposite ! Smokers who quit smoking improve their cardiovascular function in just one month ! Already in 2017, Prof. Polosa, a specialist in respiratory diseases, discovered that vaping daily would not cause lung damage. Therefore, one may wonder on what basis the authors of this Q&A can make such statements.

OMS vape

« E-cigarettes expose non-smokers and those around them to nicotine and other harmful chemicals ».
An international scientific study published in 2018 showed that there was no risk of second-hand vaping (check your article here). The only substance that can potentially remain in the air is nicotine, although after just a few seconds, no traces of it can be found. According to the experts, given the quantities exhaled, it doesn’t represent any danger to the people next to you, especially knowing that from two metres, the notion of passive vapour doesn’t exist.

« Aerosols contain toxic substances, such as glycol, used to make de-icing products ».
How can we still make this mistake in 2020 ???? It’s undeniably one of the most persistent errors due to a vocabulary confusion.

Indeed, ethylene glycol is frequently used as an antifreeze in engine coolant for cars. This product is highly toxic if ingested. But this substance is obviously not found in any vaping e-liquids ! The substance used in e-liquids is PROPYLENE glycol. It’s used in pharmaceuticals and as a food additive, as well as to create "smoke" in theatres !

« E-liquids can burn the skin and quickly cause poisoning if ingested or absorbed through the skin ».
How can they say that ? E-liquids, due to their composition, do not cause burns when they come in contact with the skin. Vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol are also used in cosmetics, food and pharmaceuticals ! As for the nicotine contained in these liquids, the concentration is too low to risk any burns.

However, it goes without saying that it’s absolutely not recommended to ingest a liquid containing nicotine, as it may cause dizziness, nausea, palpitations or vomiting. It would simply be an aberration for an adult to drink such a liquid. And, all liquids bottles for e-cigarettes are equipped with childproof caps to prevent any accidents.

« E-cigarettes have been known to cause serious injury by burning or exploding ».
Wrong again ! Actually, the few explosions and burns caused by e-cigarettes were linked to defective batteries or the misuse of them (French document). Indeed, when using electronic devices, there are rules to follow ! Remember, any device with a battery presents a risk of explosion. We all have smartphones and yet we don't panic at the thought of them exploding.

« It’s becoming increasingly clear that electronic cigarettes cause lung damage ».
This statement is based on the 2,409 hospitalizations and 52 deaths recorded as of 10.12.19 in the United States. But the CDC itself has publicly admitted that e-cigarettes with nicotine were not linked to these lung problems ! The victims had vaped adulterated cannabis products bought on the black market. And, these products contained vitamin E acetate, a compound highly harmful if inhaled and totally absent from traditional quality controlled e-liquids ! (read our article on the subject).

OMS vape

« E-cigs are more dangerous than traditional cigarettes, depending on various factors, including the level of nicotine and other toxic substances found in the heated liquids. They represent a real danger to health and are by no means safe ».
How can they say that when the scientific community agrees that e-cigs are 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes ? The toxic products identified as coming from e-cigs only appear when overheated. Because of the pungent taste, vapers will not inhale those regularly.

« There is not enough evidence that e-cig is a good way to quit smoking ».
Tell that to the 40 million vapers across the world ! A recent study shows exactly the opposite : it would even be 2x more effective than the nicotine substitutes acknowledged by the WHO !

« E-cigarettes are harmful to the health and, where it’s not banned, it must be regulated ».
We find it highly regrettable that a ban is being promoted instead of regulation. Particularly since the data show that where there’s vaping, there’s less smoking. Just look at England, for example ! By banning vaping, governments are depriving smokers the opportunity to be informed about vaping and the risk reduction it represents. Indirectly, such a ban amounts to supporting smoking rather than fighting it !

OMS vape

Reactions from the experts were not long in coming

Many experts have spoken out about this Q&A straight after its publication.

Here are a few reactions :

Dr Nick Hopkinson from the National Heart and Lung Institute College of London :« We know that e-cigarettes are substantially safer than traditional cigarettes because the toxic substances in cigarette smoke are either totally absent or present at much lower levels in e-cigs ».
« Evidence from randomized controlled trials clearly shows that e-cigarettes can help smokers quit ».

Prof. Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Marry University in London : « WHO has a history of anti-vaping activism that is damaging its reputation. This document is particularly defamatory ».
« Practically all factual statements are false. There’s no evidence that vaping is highly addictive - less than 1% of non-smokers become vapers ».
« The authors of this paper should take responsibility for the use of blatant misinformation that may prevent smokers from switching to a much less risky alternative ».

Prof. John Britton, Director of the Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham : "The WHO claims that nicotine is the cause of the epidemic in the USA in 2019, even though it’s known that it was due to adulterated cannabis products ».

Some reactions in France

Fivape, the French interprofessional vaping federation, also issued a press release (French document) in reaction to the WHO's comments.

The Sovape association was quick to react by analysing the activities of WHO concerning vaping in the fight against tobacco. It lists several violations problems from WHO principles, as well as FCTC (Framework Convention on Tobacco Control) principles and disturbing human rights endangerments.
Here’s their position (French document).


The new WHO Q&A, on January 20, 2020, goes against everything that has been scientifically proven to this date regarding e-cigarettes. After its damning report in the summer of 2019 stating that "e-cigarettes are undeniably harmful", one is entitled to wonder what has gotten into them !
The millions of financial support received from Michael Bloomberg, fervent opponent of the vape ? No doubt ...
In short : false statements, no argument put forward or scientific evidence, anonymity ... let’s be honest, all this does not hold up.
But that’s the WHO ! They expect you to simply believe them, even though the scientific community and experts actually claim the exact opposite.

Thanks for reading.

Sweetch Team

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