Medical supporters of e-cigs rally for social media campaign

Rally in another form - Best of rally liveA new initiative seeking to unite scientific and medical supporters of e-cigarettes is planning a “thunderclap” through social media.

MOVE (Medical Organisations supporting Vaping and E-cigarettes) has been trying to bring together scientists, medical professionals and organisations that see the potential of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation aids.

It currently has around 190 supporters. Most hail from mainland Europe, with Spain (33), Germany (25) and Italy (23) showing the highest support. Its Website lists many of the supporters as well as their qualifications and affiliations.

Now, on 19th February, MOVE plans to simultaneously publish a signed letter through all of its supporters’ social networks in what it is terming a “thunderclap”.

The letter will list reasons why members are supporting e-cigarettes, including statements declaring that they believe issues have been badly portrayed, particularly in the media.

“Our principle objective is to obtain and monitor the global support of the health professionals community for electronic cigarettes,” said Arturo Ribes, co-ordinator of MOVE as well as the Spanish arm of EFVI (the European Free Vaping Initiative), and also president of UPEV (a Spanish e-cig trade association).

“This way, we hope we can help the press throughout the world, for the first time, start to make people aware of the real information behind the conflict over electronic cigarettes.

“We want to create an ethical debate amongst health professionals about the importance of these products for harm reduction and their potential to save lives,” continued Ribes.

“No-one had asked health professionals about their opinion of vaping. They haven’t been informed in an objective way about the potential impact of electronic cigarettes on society.”

It’s not about nicotine

For example, the letter will declare that the danger in cigarettes lies not in nicotine, but in combustion and other substances, meaning that e-cigarette vapour can be expected to be at least 95% safer than conventional tobacco in terms of long-term health risks to users, and highly unlikely to be harmful to bystanders.

By supporting the use of e-cigarettes as tools for smoking cessation, medical practitioners could avert 6000 premature deaths for every million people that make the switch from cigarettes to e-cigs, MOVE says.

And if enough professionals were to sign, the initiative could help to reignite the debate on regulatory efforts such as the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), he added.

“To have 100 health professionals on our side is important, but to have 1000 or 5000 would be an exceptional occurrence without precedence,” he said. “This could change the public opinion throughout the world.”

Here we stand

Most signatories have declared their support publicly, although a few have opted to remain anonymous, Ribes said.

One public signatory is Carlos Gutiérrez, an intensive care physician in Malaga, Spain. Gutiérrez said he signed the initiative because he was outraged by the manipulation of the e-cig debate by financially interested parties without any serious scientific backing.  Fallacies had been put forward to confuse public opinion, he said.

“I am totally convinced that the vaporiser is not only an alternative to tobacco, but the current method that has been shown to be the most effective to stop smoking definitively,” he added.

What This Means: Thus far the MOVE initiative is small beans. But it is a cohesive movement that medical professionals can get behind – and if more choose to do so, it could have real influence with others in the medical community, as well as professional bodies, NGOs, regulators, and maybe even the media.

– Freddie Dawson and Daniel Irwin-Brown ECigIntelligence staff

Photo: Best of Rally Live

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